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10 June 2019

Type 2 diabetes study puts the kidney, spleen and the eyes in the spotlight

A new study by King’s researchers has identified over 60 differences in molecules in 18 organs of type 2 diabetic mice.


Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition in which the body struggles to process sugar in the blood and can lead to serious complications that affect the eyes, heart, kidneys and limbs. Until now, there hasn’t been a systematic study of the metabolic changes which occur as the condition progresses.

In research published today, it has been found that there are more significant changes in the kidney, spleen and eyes, pointing to a faster deterioration of these organs.

This study, led by Dr Marina Mora-Ortiz from the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, is the most comprehensive understanding we have of metabolic changes in specific organs of this mouse model of type 2 diabetes. It establishes a new reference for further research and leads to the development of better treatments for people living with type 2 diabetes, and therapies to prevent people from ever developing the condition.

The team studied 18 different parts of the body in six diabetic mice and in six regular mice for comparison. They used a powerful technique known as NMR spectroscopy to determine the levels of certain metabolites – molecules involved in metabolism – in each of these body parts.

The team found 61 changes in metabolites associated with type 2 diabetes. The kidney, spleen and eye had the most differences in metabolites when compared with mice without diabetes.

This work will help us to understand better which organs are more seriously affected by type 2 diabetes. We know now, for example, that further research should focus on the spleen which is an important organ of the immune system and has been traditionally neglected in diabetes research.

Dr Marina Mora-Ortiz, School of Life Course Sciences

For the paper, click here.