Autoimmune Arthritis Associated with Distressing Diabetes
In 2001, a mouse model showed that there is a genetic link between rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, according to the Science journal. The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Scientists discovered that one strain of genetically-similar mice develops diabetes while a second strain acquires rheumatoid arthritis instead of diabetes. Immunologist Denise Faustman of Harvard Medical School led a team of researchers to find out what causes genetically-similar animal models to develop an autoimmune disease.
The researchers put their efforts into studying mice that commonly develop diseases similar to type 1 diabetes. In every generation of mice, it seems that a portion develops a disorder while the rest remain healthy. The researchers raised the mice without diabetes to adulthood in hopes of finding diabetes-linked genes without the disease.
What they did find, however, was that 80 percent of the mice developed symptoms comparable to human rheumatoid arthritis. Female mice especially showed inflammation around the wrists and large knuckle joints, but these symptoms subsided once the mice became pregnant. It is possible that this research will show how a common genetic mutation can lead to a collection of varying diseases.
There is a hypothesis out there that a “common gene” may be responsible for a variety of autoimmune diseases. There have been some similarities found between the autoimmune disorders systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes. In each of these instances, the immune system itself misdirects and causes damage to the body.
“One of the curiosities of autoimmune diseases is that the same factors that exacerbate one kind of autoimmune disease actually ameliorate others,” Noel Rose, an immunologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, told the news source.
One WebMD article explains that the connection between diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis is still somewhat unclear. Dr. Solomon Bili, a rheumatologist from Geisinger Health System, was interviewed by WebMD about this connection.
Bili told the source that, in rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints and causes perpetual inflammation. Past studies have shown that inflammation also plays a role in diabetes. Insulin resistance has also been connected to inflammation in previous trials.
The risk for acquiring type 2 diabetes increases when the organs and tissues of the human body react inaccurately to insulin. Additionally, medication that is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis like steroids is capable of increasing a patient’s risk for diabetes. Certain environmental factors also overlap between the two conditions – people with arthritis may have more difficulty remaining active and a sedentary lifestyle may lead individuals to become overweight.
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