Innovative procedure to measure cell energy production developed

A software that better helps researchers detect shifts in fuel utilisation in human cells will allow them to determine whether dietary intake and drugs would help normalise the chronic inflammation that is known to drive the development of diseases including diabetes.


SHORE, an analytical tool developed in collaboration between researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, enhances measurement and analysis of energy production generated by human immune cells.


"Measuring energy production is critical for determining how immune cells fuel inflammation in many diseases such as obesity and diabetes," explained Barbara Nikolajczyk, PhD, associate professor of microbiology at BUSM.


The software, using Extracellular Flux technology (technology for cellular bioenergetic studies), can accurately compare peripheral blood cells from healthy people to those with diabetes.


Development of this automated tool increases the researchers' capacity to analyse the large number of cell samples required for rigor in human materials research.


"This method is a critical advance in the analysis of human immune cells and is available as a free download to serve the scientific community unencumbered," added Nikolajczyk.


Full article 




Related information 1

In a 2015 study, the Boston University School of Medicine identified a new fingerprint of inflammation that may be able to predict which patients with obesity may also develop type 2 diabetes.


The researchers identified Th17 cells, known to be involved in autoimmune diseases, as a dominant cell type in Type 2 diabetes.


The researchers also demonstrated that another important immune cell, Th1, may be involved in the glycemic control aspect of Type 2 diabetes.


That study combined basic measures of inflammation in Type 2 diabetes with cutting-edge mathematical analysis to sort through all changes in inflammatory proteins and rank the changes from most to least important in an unbiased manner.


"This newly identified fingerprint of inflammation relative to different traits of Type 2 diabetes may be an important new biomarker to predict the 75 percent of people with obesity who will become Type 2 diabetic, versus the 25 percent of people with obesity who remain metabolically healthy," explained Barbara Nikolajczyk, PhD, associate professor of microbiology at BUSM.

2015 study article  


Related information 2

In an earlier study in 2013, the Boston University School of Medicine revealed that B cells regulate obesity-associated inflammation and type 2 diabetes through two specific mechanisms. The study called for continued exploration of B cells as a therapeutic target to treat these diseases.


Previous research had shown that B cells, which are white blood cells of the immune system, promote inflammation and can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, but the mechanisms underlying B cell function were unclear.


The study indicated that B cells secrete a pro-inflammatory ratio of proteins called cytokines, which directly promote the insulin resistance that characterizes type 2 diabetes. The researchers also demonstrated that B cells directly regulate inflammatory T cells, an immune cell type known to cause insulin resistance in animal models of disease.


"Now that we have identified the specific mechanisms by which B cells promote inflammation, we can help develop novel, targeted approaches to treat type 2 diabetes," said Nikolajczyk. "Our study supports the continued exploration of FDA-approved B cell depletion drugs, which are known to be generally safe and effective, as novel agents to prevent obesity-associated inflammation and type 2 diabetes."

2013 study article 

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