Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when food is not properly absorbed in the blood to be used as a source of energy. It is characterized by high blood sugar levels. The immunological causes of diabetes can hamper the production of insulin and also worsen insulin resistance thereby increasing the risk of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, respectively.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity across the world. If not managed properly, it can lead to life-threatening consequences such as diabetic coma. The risk of diabetic complications is higher in patients suffering from immunological abnormalities.
In this article, we will have a look at the role of the immune system in triggering the causes of diabetes and its complications.
How does an abnormal immune system trigger the causes of diabetes?
Normally, food is broken down into smaller sugar particles called glucose. This glucose later enters the blood and reaches the tissues and cells, where it can be used as energy. In patients with diabetes, the transport of glucose into the body’s cells is hampered resulting in high levels of sugars left in the bloodstream. This occurs due to the lower production of a hormone called insulin in the pancreas in patients with type 1 diabetes or the inability of the body to use the insulin properly, also called insulin resistance, in patients with type 2 diabetes.
It has been found that these underlying causes of diabetes are triggered due to high levels of unchecked oxidative stress in the body.
Reactive oxygen species released during the body’s metabolic processes can lead to the stimulation of the innate immune response. This results in the increased production of proinflammatory cytokines.
Research studies have indicated that reactive oxygen species send signals to the immune system to increase cytokine production through the stimulation of MAP kinase signaling. This can worsen inflammation in the pancreas and other healthy tissue. This response of the immune system results in a lower production of insulin in the pancreas thus triggering type 1 diabetes. Inflammation in healthy tissue reduces their ability to respond to insulin thus triggering insulin resistance, which is one of the causes of diabetes.
In this manner, the immune system plays a role in the pathogenesis of type 1 and types 2 diabetes.
Research studies have revealed that chronic hyperglycemia or persistent high blood sugar levels occur due to the dysregulated immune response. An abnormally functioning immune system can trigger the activation of inflammatory circuits thereby inducing insulin resistance.
Changes in gene expressions associated with diabetes such as increased ICAM-1 expression also play a role in worsening inflammation and the risk of diabetic complications. This form of inflammatory damage to the body tissues and cells is responsible for most of the complications of diabetes including diabetic neuropathy and nephropathy.
The inability of the immune system to inhibit the progress of chronic inflammation may also increase the risk of diabetic complications like kidney fibrosis, proteinuria, and end-stage renal disease. Hence, it is advisable to identify and treat the underlying immunological causes of diabetes in order to prevent these consequences.
Increased risk of infections
Patients with diabetes mellitus tend to develop infections more often due to the reduced ability of the immune system to fight pathogens. The course of infections also tends to be more complicated in diabetic patients.
Defects in the adaptive immunity and humoral innate immunity such as a low complement factor 4, and dysregulated cytokine response have been believed to be the causes of recurrent infections in diabetic patients.
As a result, the incidence of bacterial infections, non-healing wounds due to superadded infections and fungal infections like Athletes foot are common in diabetic patients.
Research studies have also shown that the functions of cellular innate immunity such as chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and the killing of pathogens are hampered in diabetic patients. These findings suggest that taking steps to strengthen the functions of the immune system may help to prevent recurrent infections in diabetic patients. It will also control the causes of diabetes complications such as non-healing wounds and Athletes foot and improve the quality of patients’ lives.
Patients with diabetes are advised to use immunity-regulating supplements such as BioPro-Plus which help to regulate and strengthen the functions of the immune system. BioPro-Plus naturally helps the body to avoid the causes of diabetes such as low insulin levels and insulin resistance. It can help to balance immune system functions thereby preventing inflammation and oxidative stress responsible for reduced insulin production as well as insulin resistance. It can also help to strengthen the immune system and prevent the tendency for recurrent infections.