Currently, the best treatments for type 2 diabetes involve managing blood sugar levels, but recent research suggests that the brain may be a new drug target for longer-term control. Now, a pair of studies on rats and mice has investigated how a certain peptide works to induce remission for animals with diabetes, which could lead to new breakthroughs in human treatments.
Previous studies have found that just one injection of a protein called fibroblast growth factor 1 (FGF1) into the brains of mice with type 2 diabetes was enough to return them to regular blood sugar levels for weeks or even months. But the mechanism behind it remained mostly unknown. Now, two related studies have investigated how it works.
The first study charted the changes of gene expression in a variety of brain cell types after FGF1 injections, while the second looked into how other brain structures help to sustain diabetic remission. Both studies focused on the hypothalamus, a small region of the brain that regulates hunger, food intake, energy use and, importantly, blood sugar levels.
In the first study, the team surgically injected FGF1 into the brains of mice with type 2 diabetes, then monitored the changes in gene expression from different brain cell types. They found that the structural glial cells responded more strongly than neurons did.