Focussing on single islets in type 2 diabetes

Quantitative imaging of electron transfer flavoprotein autofluorescence reveals the dynamics of lipid partitioning in living pancreatic islets A new microscopy technique developed by Alan Lam and colleagues from Toronto could help to reveal more about how pancreatic cells change at the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

It is estimated that around 6 % of the world’s population have Type 2 diabetes, which can be caused by obesity and lack of exercise. β-cells in a diabetic pancreas produce decreased amounts of insulin and are dysfunctional. It is thought that metabolism of glucose and fatty acid could play a role in this dysfunction, but their exact contribution to the pathology is yet to be elucidated.

To start to discover the mechanisms behind this, the authors use microfluidics to isolate single pancreatic islets then use confocal microscopy to look at autofluorescence of the protein flavin as an indication of electron transport chain activity. They then use this setup to characterise redox responses in the islets to fatty acid and glucose metabolism. This work could lead to a deeper understanding of the pathology of diabetes, giving us a better grounding on which to develop more effective treatments and cures.

To find out more about this interesting combination of modern technologies, download the paper here and look out for it in Issue 8!

Quantitative imaging of electron transfer flavoprotein autofluorescence reveals the dynamics of lipid partitioning in living pancreatic islets
Alan K. Lam,  Pamuditha N. Silva,  Svetlana M. Altamentova and Jonathan V. Rocheleau
DOI: 10.1039/C2IB20075A

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