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Type 2 diabetes may be caused by intestinal dysfunction
Date:3/5/2008

has become increasingly evident that the gastrointestinal tract plays an important role in energy regulation, and that many gut hormones are involved in the regulation of sugar metabolism. "It should not surprise anyone that surgically altering the bowel's anatomy affects the mechanisms that regulate blood sugar levels, eventually influencing diabetes," Dr. Rubino says.

While other gastrointestinal operations may cure diabetes as an effect of changes that improve blood sugar levels, Dr. Rubino's research findings in animals show that procedures based on a bypass of the upper intestine may work instead by reversing abnormalities of blood glucose regulation.

In fact, bypass of the upper small intestine does not improve the ability of the body to regulate blood sugar levels. "When performed in subjects who are not diabetic, the bypass of the upper intestine may even impair the mechanisms that regulate blood levels of glucose," says Dr. Rubino. In striking contrast, when nutrients' passage is diverted from the upper intestine of diabetic patients, diabetes resolves.

This, he explains, implies that the upper intestine of diabetic patients may be the site where an abnormal signal is produced, causing, or at least favoring, the development of the disease.

How exactly the upper intestine is dysfunctional remains to be seen. Dr. Rubino proposes an original explanation known in the scientific community as the "anti-incretin theory."

Incretins are gastrointestinal hormones, produced in response to the transit of nutrients, that boost insulin production. Because an excess of insulin can determine hypoglycemia (extremely low levels of blood sugar) -- a life-threatening condition -- Dr. Rubino speculates that the body has a counter-regulatory mechanism (or "anti-incretin" mechanism), activated by the same passage of nutrients through the upper intestine. The latter mechanism would act to decrease both the secretion and the action of
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Contact: John Rodgers
jdr2001@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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