A new discovery could lead to the creation of better treatments for people with type 1 diabetes who also have depression.
Scientists at Lund University, Swede, say levels of an inflammatory protein called galectin-3 could be significant in helping to diagnose or treat depression among those with type 1 diabetes.
Galectin-3 is involved in promoting inflammatory immune system responses that help repair tissue damage, such as in response to injury or disease. But elevated levels have been linked to disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease.
Prior to this study, research suggested that high levels of inflammation were associated with depression and diabetes, but the role of galectin-3 was not investigated in either condition.
Researchers analysed galectin-3 levels in 283 men and women with type 1 diabetes for one year, with incidences of depression self-reported.
Lead author Dr Eva Olga Melin said: “We found that people with type-1 diabetes and depression had higher galectin-3 levels, yet no other diabetes-related metabolic changes could account for these elevated levels.”
Because depression is common among people with diabetes, researchers hope that if they can validate their findings in future studies, as well as prove a causal relationship between galectin-3 and depression risk, then future treatment targets could help lower the risk of depression in people with type 1 diabetes.
“Depression is a common disorder, so these findings suggest that further investigating the role of galectin-3 could lead to improved diagnosis and maybe better treatment outcomes for patients in the future,” added Dr Melin.
The findings appear online in Endocrine Connections.
Editor’s note: While people with diabetes are more likely to get depression than those without the condition, they are many ways depression can be treated aside from medication. Our Diabetes Forum has helped people share their stories for over 15 years and talk with like-minded individuals, while keeping good control of blood sugar levels and eating a healthy, real food diet has been shown to improve energy levels as well as mood.