Two different teams of researchers from the College of Biological Sciences are represented in the “Best of 2017” issue of the prominent journal Cell Metabolism. Their papers, on insulin-producing beta cells and on the effects of a low-carb diet on longevity in mice, are among just five research articles chosen to appear in the special issue along with two clinical reports and four review articles.
In April 2017, Mark Huising’s lab in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior published a study that could open up a new route to replace lost insulin-producing cells in people with type I diabetes. Beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas make insulin to regulate blood sugar. In type I diabetes, these cells are killed off and not replaced. It had been thought that beta cells were only produced by division of other mature beta cells, but Huising’s lab discovered a new type of immature beta cell that appears to hang around in the Islet of Langerhans.
If these new “virgin” beta cells could be induced to mature into insulin-producing cells, that could be a route to treating diabetes.
Low-carb diet, aging and health
Diet, health and metabolism are clearly linked, but exactly how can be controversial. For example, diets low in carbohydrates and high in fats have been popular for weight loss, but it’s not clear how healthy they are.
Keith Baar, also in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior with Jon Ramsey, Gino Cortopassi and others at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Medicine, carried out a study of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate “ketogenic” diet in laboratory mice. They found that mice on the low-carb diet lived an average of 13 percent longer than mice on a control diet.
“The results surprised me a little,” Ramsey said at the time the paper was published in September 2017. The difference would amount to seven to ten years in human terms, and the mice remained healthy in later life, he said.
Download Best of Cell Metabolism 2017 (Cell Press)
A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice (Cell Metabolism)
Follow Keith Baar on Twitter @musclescience