Skip to comments.Dolphin 'Diabetes' Could Be Important Model for Humans
Posted on 02/20/2010 2:03:15 PM PST by neverdem
SAN DIEGO—The best nonhuman model for type 2 diabetes is not a rat or even a primate. It’s a dolphin, researchers suggested at a press conference here this morning at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW). Apparently, these marine mammals regularly shift their blood chemistry in a way that can cause problems strikingly similar to those associated with diabetes in humans, such as insulin resistance, excess iron, and kidney stones.
In 2007, veterinary epidemiologist Stephanie Venn-Watson of the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego and veterinary pathologist Sam Ridgway of the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, made a surprising discovery in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) owned by the U.S. Navy. After reviewing 7 years of routine blood samples from 52 dolphins, they found that the blood chemistry after fasting resembled that of people with diabetes—higher levels of glucose and other molecules, such as an enzyme called gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase—while the blood after a meal was like that of healthy people. This allows the dolphins to maintain adequate glucose levels while eating a high-protein diet, Venn-Watson said.
Last year, the group described signs of disease complications associated with diabetes. Some dolphins have hemochromatosis, an excess of iron in the blood, and high levels of triglycerides, problems associated with type 2 diabetes in humans. Some of these dolphins also have insulin resistance.
Now the team has added hypocitraturia (low urine levels of citrate) to the list. As in humans, these dolphins have a higher risk of kidney stones, probably because of the hypocitraturia. The findings are in press at the Journal of Comparative Medicine.
Venn-Watson proposes that dolphins could be the most realistic model for studying diabetes, because their condition is more similar to that of humans than in rats, cats, pigs, or primates. Figuring out how dolphins turn their diabetes-like state on and off—and how this leads to problems—could reveal clues to preventing diabetes in humans, she said.
"..that explains your compulsion to swim up to strange ladies at pool side and sticking your nose in their....face"
Dolphins Turn Diabetes Off and On -- Hope for Humans? National Geographic
FReepmail me if you want on or off the diabetes ping list.
As a diabetic, I like to hear/read hopeful news like this.
Dolphins are highly intelligent creatures...certainly more intelligent than the average Obama voter.
They live long too. Our local zoo had one for about 40 some years; he passed back in 2007 I believe. I actually cried when he died. He was a beloved creature and seemed to enjoy humans.
Anyway, thanks for posting this piece.
Rest in peace, Chuckles.
what is the definition of Type 2 Diabetes?
Fasting Blood sugar greater than 126 and arbitrarily lowered from the previous by 10% or 14 points from the previous standard of 140.
“Fasting Blood sugar greater than 126 and arbitrarily lowered from the previous by 10% or 14 points from the previous standard of 140.”
I’ve never heard about this. Who arbitrarily lowered it from 140 to 126 and when did that happen? So before you didn’t have diabetes unless your fasting was 140, and now you do if it is 126? How can that be?
.......So before you didnt have diabetes unless your fasting was 140, and now you do if it is 126? .....
Almost. My doctor told me I had Diabetes mellitus because my fasting blood sugar was above 126 on two separate visits and that was the definition. I learned the number had recently been reduced to 126 from 140 and the difference of 14 rang a bell. It was a nice round 10%.
Subsequently I read quite quite a bit and learned of a diabetes website where you could ask questions. I asked and learned that the reduction of 10 % was an arbitrary number determined by a board who believed the 140 number still to high.
There were no other symptoms other than fasting blood sugar in excess of 126 on more then one separate occasion. The cure is diet and exercise. For me, losing weight and exercise make the difference. Diet seems to have a minimal effect.
I got diagnosed when my fasting sugar went to 141. I dieted and got it down to 131, then into the normal range, but the time spent over the 125 edge got me labeled. The weird thing is that I can test my blood sugar any time during the day and it tests in the normal range as found on http://www.isletsofhope.com/diabetes/symptoms/normoglycemia_1.html#normal
The doctor wanted me to take statins for high cholesterol which I refused and I also told the doctor that since I’d eaten myself into this situation, that I would eat my way back out of it. So far, so good, but while my blood sugar remains okay during the day, sometimes it goes a bit high in the mornings. I’m wondering now if people have something similar to dolphins in that regard.
I don’t take meds for this situation and hope that I never do. Time will tell, I guess.
The bummer is that this label will likely stick with me for the rest of my life.
Ah, Mr. Pining and I feel your pain. We are both diabetic or borderline. I would not take the drugs for type 2 diabetes. They lower blood sugar, but that has not proven to do anything other than treat the numbers. In fact, it gives people a false sense of assurance that things are OK. No study has shown that hypoglycemic drugs reduce long-term outcomes.
Ditto for statins.
As for what you experience in the morning, it could be what is known as the “dawn effect”. There are forums at the ADA website and there is a lot of info there. Unfortunately, the folks there have bought into the current prescription to test blood sugar frequently ( a boon to strip makers) and are gung ho on oral meds.
The sad thing is, that if people develop complications after several years, doctors are convinced the patient was non-compliant rather than questioning if all the testing and “treating the numbers” is really effective.
I do test often, though not as often as the doctor suggests. The weird thing about that is that I can test and get one result, test immediately and get another result that is as much as 10 points one way or the other. Given that 10 points is enough to merit a label of diabetic or not diabetic, how can anybody be sure of anything?
My A1C has never been over the top so, the whole thing drives me nuts.
For one thing, the meters are not all that accurate. People at the ADA forums state that the meters can be off as much as 10%. That makes quite a difference!
Honestly, the best thing you can do is to try to move around as much as you can - this means more than just daily exercise. Sitting for long periouds of time seems to be the worst thing you can do. Now, I am the original “couch slug”, so I know it’s easier said than done.
There is still no proof that lowering blood sugars with drugs does anything other than just lower the numbers.
I have posted this link before here at FR, but if you haven’t seen it: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Story?id=3232247&page=1
God bless, I hope all goes well for you. Diabetes is a terrible scourge.