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Human haptoglobin gene mutation increases risk of diabetic complications

April 14, 2017

In a proteomics study of serum from rats treated with diabetogenic virus, the research team utilized 2D gel analysis and mass spectrometry and found increased levels of serum haptoglobin very early in the time course of diabetes induction. This result was confirmed by western and ELISA analyses, and sustained elevations of serum haptoglobin were generally predictive of ensuing diabetes. "Intriguingly," Dr. Bortell stated, "mutations in the human haptoglobin gene are associated with increased risk of diabetic complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy and cardiovascular disease. In our rat studies, however, haptoglobin was identified very early following virus infection, well prior to the development of diabetes or its complications, and thus may represent a biomarker for the pathogenesis of autoimmune diabetes as well."

To the researchers' knowledge, this is the first study that investigates T1D serum biomarkers found specifically in response to virus infection. Dr. Bortell said "As virus infections have historically been associated with the development of T1D in children, these rat models have particular relevance to the human disease. Reliably identifying children in the earliest phases of diabetes (pre-diabetes) would provide clinicians with a window of opportunity when pharmacotherapy could be most effective in slowing or halting the disease."

Source: Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine