My watch list
my.bionity.com  
Login  

Every Meal Triggers Inflammation

18-Jan-2017

When we eat, we do not just take in nutrients – we also consume a significant quantity of bacteria. The body is faced with the challenge of simultaneously distributing the ingested glucose and fighting these bacteria. This triggers an inflammatory response that activates the immune systems of healthy individuals and has a protective effect, as doctors from the University and the University Hospital Basel have proven for the first time. In overweight individuals, however, this inflammatory response fails so dramatically that it can lead to diabetes.

It is well known that type 2 diabetes (or adult-onset diabetes) leads to chronic inflammation with a range of negative impacts. A number of clinical studies have therefore treated diabetes by impeding the over-production of a substance involved in this process, Interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta). In diabetes patients, this messenger substance triggers chronic inflammation and causes insulin-producing beta cells to die off.

Activation of the immune system

This inflammation does have some positive aspects, however, as was recently reported in the journal Nature Immunology by researchers from the Department of Biomedicine at the University and the University Hospital Basel. In healthy individuals, short-term inflammatory responses play an important role in sugar uptake and the activation of the immune system.

In their work, Professor Marc Donath, Head of the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University Hospital Basel and his research team demonstrate that the number of macrophages (a type of immune cell) around the intestines increases during meal times. These so-called “scavenger cells­” produce the messenger substance IL-1beta in varying amounts, depending on the concentration of glucose in the blood. This, in turn, stimulates insulin production in pancreatic beta cells. The insulin then causes the macrophages to increase IL-1beta production. Insulin and IL-1beta work together to regulate blood sugar levels, while the messenger substance IL-1beta ensures that the immune system is supplied with glucose and thus remains active.

Bacteria and nutrients

According to the researchers, this mechanism of the metabolism and immune system is dependent on the bacteria and nutrients that are ingested during meals. With sufficient nutrients, the immune system is able to adequately combat foreign bacteria. Conversely, when there is a lack of nutrients, the few remaining calories must be conserved for important life functions at the expense of an immune response. This may go some way towards explaining why infectious diseases occur more frequently in times of famine.

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about Universität Basel
  • News

    Why Some Forms of Leukemia Only Affect Children

    Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) mainly affects children, with the prognosis often being poor despite several decades of research into more effective treatments. A new study led by researchers from the University of Basel and from Gustave Roussy Institute, Paris, explains why some forms of leuk ... more

    A new strategy for the synthesis of complex natural products

    Chemists from the University of Basel have succeeded in synthesizing two complex natural products from the group of dithiodiketopiperazines (DTPs). For this, they employed a new strategy based on “C-H bond activation,” resulting in a short and high yielding route. In the of the Journal of t ... more

    Too much of a good thing: overactive immune cells trigger inflammation

    Scientists describe a previously unknown disorder of the immune system: in a distinct subset of immune cells from patients with primary immunodeficiency, cellular respiration is significantly increased. This cellular metabolic overactivity leads to inflammation, as an international research ... more

  • Videos

    Virtual Reality in Medicine: New Opportunities for Diagnostics and Surgical Planning

    Before an operation, surgeons have to obtain the most precise image possible of the anatomical structures of the part of the body undergoing surgery. University of Basel researchers have now developed a technology that uses computed tomography data to generate a three-dimensional image in r ... more

    Nuclear Pores Captured on Film

    Zooming into a nuclear pore complex using a high-speed atomic force microscope reveals the selectivity barrier that filters the traffic of molecules passing between the cytoplasm and nucleus in eukaryotic cells. This is comprised of intrinsically disordered proteins known as FG Nucleoporins ... more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE