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Health News Archive 509 - Diabetes
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Capsaicin from Chili Peppers May Cure Type 1 Diabetes

Scientists at a Toronto hospital may have discovered proof that the body's nervous system helps trigger diabetes.

This stunning discovery, which shocked even the researchers who made it, could eventually lead to a near-cure of diabetes. Type I diabetes in particular has long been thought to be incurable. Their conclusions upset conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes, the most serious form of the illness that typically first appears in childhood, was solely caused by auto-immune responses -- the body's immune system turning on itself.

Diabetic mice were injected with capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, which counteracted the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas. The mice became healthy practically overnight.

This goes against the previous conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes is caused solely by the body's immune system attacking the pancreas. Apparently, the nerves also secrete neuropeptides that are crucial to the proper functioning of the pancreas.

In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to shift glucose into the cells that need it. In Type 2 diabetes, the insulin that is produced is not used effectively -- something called insulin resistance -- also resulting in poor absorption of glucose.

The problems stem partly from inflammation -- and eventual death -- of insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas.

The nervous system could also play a role in other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and Crohn's disease. The researchers have not confirmed their findings in people, but expect results from human studies within a year. However, a treatment may still be years away.

Source: Razavi R, et.al. TRPV1+ Sensory Neurons Control β Cell Stress and Islet Inflammation in Autoimmune Diabetes. Cell; Volume 127, Issue 6, 15 December 2006, Pages 1123-1135.

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