Researchers at the University of Oklahoma in the US have discovered a hormone in the thyroid that could help millions of people with diabetes. The scientists were actually examining the effect of cold temperatures and a thyroid hormone on cardiovascular disease, when they realised that, as coldness can induce higher blood pressure in animals and humans, diabetic mice might develop the condition quicker in cold temperatures.
On putting both diabetic mice and non-diabetic mice into a box maintained at a constant 41 degrees, it was found that although the non-diabetic mice survived, the diabetic mice died in just two hours. This breakthrough meant that the animals could not maintain their body temperatures, and made them realise that perhaps giving the diabetic mice a thyroid hormone would increase their body temperatures.
An injection of thyroid hormone, T3, did raise the body temperature and also significantly decreased blood sugar levels within a couple of hours and reduced it by over half in four hours. They also discovered that the thyroid hormone level in the diabetic animals is extremely low, while the blood sugar was about five times higher than normal levels. It is now hoped that T3 could be a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes, as the researchers try to uncover what allows the hormone to lower blood sugar levels.
Zhongjie Su, who led the study at the OU Health Sciences Center, which will be published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, said “these are important studies and could have a significant impact for the millions of people with type 2 diabetes .”

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