A study on twins discordant for type 1 diabetes finds that cells in diabetic twins become altered due to high glucose which changes their gene response.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota, United States investigated skin fibroblasts, which maintain the structural integrity of connective tissues.
They evaluated nine pairs of monozygotic twins discordant for type 1 diabetes – one twin had type 1, the other did not. The twins were aged between 13 and 52.
Skin fibroblasts were studied from the pairs and grown in both normal glucose (NG – 5.5 mmol/L) and high glucose (HG – 25 mmol/L).
3,308 genes were expressed differently between NG and HG in twins with type 1 diabetes, while this figure was only 889 for genes in non-diabetic twins.
There was a significantly greater proportion of increase gene expression between NG and HG in twins with type 1 diabetes. These pathways included DNA replication and the oxidative phosphorylatio, which showed a strong trend in HG leading to upregulation in genes.
The researchers concluded: “These results highlight the importance of using cells directly derived from diabetic patients for studies examining the effects of HG in diabetes.”
They added that these studies should be conducted using “cells derived from individuals or animals with diabetes, and that the discordant monozygotic twins represent an excellent model for such studies.”

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