Understanding diabetes: Atomic absorption spectrometry assists

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  • Published: Jun 15, 2017
  • Author: David Bradley
  • Channels: Atomic
thumbnail image: Understanding diabetes: Atomic absorption spectrometry assists

Diabetes differentiated

Type 1 diabetes is a major cause of debilitation and premature death. Treating the disorder is complicated and costly. Now, a team in Brazil is using atomic absorption spectrometry and other techniques to look for potential metallic biomarkers for copper, magnesium, selenium, and zinc to correlate their concentrations with the patient metalloproteome.

Type 1 diabetes is a major cause of debilitation and premature death. Treating the disorder is complicated and costly. Now, a team in Brazil is using atomic absorption spectrometry and other techniques to look for potential metallic biomarkers for copper, magnesium, selenium, and zinc to correlate their concentrations with the patient metalloproteome.

Camila Pereira Braga, José Cavalcante Souza Vieira, Aline de Lima Leite, Ana Angélica Henrique Fernandes, Marília Afonso Rabelo Buzalaf, and Pedro de Magalhães Padilha of São Paulo State University (UNESP), Botucatu, Brazil, have used a rat model of the disease to help them carry out a study of metalloproteomic and differential expression in blood plasma. The team used 2D-PAGE for plasma protein fractionation and applied graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry (GFAAS) and flame atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS) to determine concentrations of the various trace elements.

In addition to the AAS work, the team looked at different expression rates for pertinent proteins using electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS) after tryptic digestion. The ESI-MS/MS provided characterizations of 35 different proteins, indicating alpha-1- macroglobulin and haptoglobulin as potential candidates as biomarkers for diabetes treated with insulin. They also found 2'-deoxynucleoside 5'-phosphate N-hydrolase 1, transmembrane protein 11, serum amyloid P component, vitamin D-binding protein, and biliverdin reductase in patients with uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes.

Metabolic problems

Diabetes mellitus type 1 is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which beta cells of the insulin-producing organ, the pancreas, are destroyed and so patients are in a permanent state of insulin deficiency. They must control their plasma glucose levels using injections of insulin and other medication. It is one of the most frequently occurring of chronic diseases in children commonly being seen to arise between the ages of 5 and 7 years old and just before puberty. It has a very different etiology to Type 2 diabetes, which is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and relative lack of insulin, which generally arises because of obesity and a lack of exercise.

Type 1 diabetes leads to levels of glucose in the plasma being too high, hyperglycemia, which is associated with abnormalities in lipids, protein and, carbohydrate metabolism, as well as oxidative stress. Symptoms of Type 1 include frequent urination, increased thirst, increased hunger, and weight loss, blurred vision, lethargy, and poor wound healing, and if not controlled and treated properly necrosis of extremities requiring amputation, blindness, organ failure, and death.

Metalloproteomics

Proteomics offers some hope of a better understanding of Type 1 diabetes, perhaps even an explanation as to how genetic, environmental, and perhaps epigenetics conspire to induce the disease in a person. The presence of the disease certainly affects protein patterns of expression and so a clearer picture of the differences between patients, both treated and untreated and with healthy individuals is important. Given that many of the proteins in which one might be investigated in a study of Type 1 diabetes might be metalloproteins, so profiling concentrations of the metals associated with those proteins is important too. Indeed, one third of all proteins have a metal element at their core, which might control, modify, and define the protein's catalytic, regulatory, and structural characteristics.

The team's examination of 35 proteins in Type 1 diabetes and the metallic elements revealed that those proteins have different interactions with copper, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. This, the team suggests, shows that bonds in the metalloproteins are somehow altered in Type 1 diabetes in plasma. This reveals new functional aspects that may be involved in diabetes progression and protein expression, the team adds. Such findings might point to methods of earlier diagnosis and thus allow treatment to begin sooner rather than later thus reducing the associated risks of delayed treatment in children and adolescents. The same results might also point to additional medication that modulates the metalloproteome so as to reduce symptoms, such treatments would inevitably be in parallel with insulin management. But, might offer a more subtle way to control the disease.

Related Links

Int J Biol Macromol 2017, online: "Metalloproteomic and differential expression in plasma in a rat model of type 1 diabetes"

Article by David Bradley

The views represented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

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