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Cystic fibrosis and diabetes link explained
Date:6/2/2014

Many people with cystic fibrosis develop diabetes. The reasons for this have been largely unknown, but now researchers at Lund University in Sweden and Karolinska institutet have identified a molecular mechanism that contributes to the raised diabetes risk.

"The increased risk of diabetes has previously been explained by the fact that cystic fibrosis causes damage to the pancreas, where the blood-sugar regulating hormone insulin is produced. We are the first research group to show that the mutated gene that causes cystic fibrosis also plays an important role in the release of insulin. The risk of diabetes is not only explained by the destruction of the pancreas", said Anna Edlund, a doctoral student at Lund University Diabetes Centre.

Cystic fibrosis is the result of a genetic mutation in an ion channel that normally regulates salt transport in cells, primarily in the lungs and pancreas. The mutation leads to a wide variety of symptoms. Individuals with cystic fibrosis produce a lot of thick, viscous mucus. This makes their airways sensitive to infection, and repeated or chronic lung infections are common. The secretion of pancreatic juice from the pancreas to the intestine is hindered, which causes diarrhoea and poor weight gain.

Left untreated, cystic fibrosis is fatal, but with improved treatment of symptoms, survival has improved. Many people with cystic fibrosis now live beyond the age of 40.

"Cystic Fibrosis is a severe health condition and diabetes exacerbates an already problematic situation", said Malin Flodstrm-Tullberg, a researcher at the Centre for Infectious Medicine, Karolinska institutet.

Many people with cystic fibrosis have poor sugar metabolism. At the age of 30, around one in four people with cystic fibrosis also has diabetes that requires treatment with insulin. What the researchers have now shown is that the mutation in the cystic fibrosis gene inhibits the secretion of insulin into the blood, wh
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Contact: Lena Eliasson
lena.eliasson@med.lu.se
46-705-225-414
Lund University
Source:Eurekalert

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