April 09, 2017
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Immune cells present potential target for treatment of type 2 diabetes, hypertension

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Immune cells could be a potential new target to treat diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, that affect people with excess weight, according to researchers at the University of Manchester.

The study was focused on eosinophils, immune cells present in perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT), which helps to maintain blood vessel function. A diminished number of eosinophils are associated with obesity.

The researchers found that eosinophils were significantly reduced in the PVAT of obese mice. They in turn saw a severe impairment in PVAT function that contributed to type 2 diabetes and hypertension, something that had not been observed previously.

"This type of immune cell is present in many parts of the body and was once thought to just act in parasitic infections and allergies, but it's fast becoming clear that they have a significant effect on lots of aspects of health and immunity,” Sheena Cruickshank, PhD, senior lecturer in the division of infection, immunity and respiratory medicine at The University of Manchester said in a press release. "Our study showed that, in fact, the secretions from eosinophils have a profound effect on how the blood vessels operate, and when they are missing, as in obesity, serious health problems can start to develop."

Eosinophils could be explored as an avenue for treating type 2 diabetes and hypertension in humans.

In the study, researchers saw that eosinophils played a role in the release of nitric oxide and adiponectin, both key components in healthy PVAT function. Eosinophils also quickly restored PVAT function.

"These immune cells have been traditionally overlooked, but this study shows for the first time that they have a direct role to play in processes in the body beyond the immune system,” Cruickshank said in the release.

Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

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