Diabetes may weaken immunity

People with uncontrolled diabetes may find it hard to control infections as high blood sugar can unleash destructive molecules that interfere with the body’s natural infection-control mechanism, says a new study.

The findings could ultimately contribute to developing and enhancing antimicrobial drugs for people with diabetes who have hard-to-control infections and wounds that are slow to heal.

“Our in vitro findings alone could have a significant impact on development of more effective antimicrobial treatment strategies for patients with uncontrolled diabetes,” said first author Janna Kiselar from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, US.

“The findings also emphasise the importance of lowering high blood sugar and keeping it under control,” Kiselar noted.

The harmful molecules — dicarbonyls — are breakdown products of glucose that interfere with infection-controlling antimicrobial peptides known as beta-defensins.

The researchers discovered how two dicarbonyls alter the structure of human beta-defensin-2 (hBD-2) peptides, hobbling their ability to fight inflammation and infection.

“If our findings hold up in future in vivo animal experiments and in human tissues, we will have solid evidence for how this dicarbonyl mechanism works in the setting of uncontrolled diabetes to weaken hBD-2 function, and that of other beta-defensins,” senior author Wesley, who conducted the research in Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, noted.

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