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Common Blood Pressure Drugs Help Prevent Diabetes

Drugs promote the survival of pancreatic beta cells

FRIDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- A common class of oral high blood pressure drugs is associated with improved survival of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells and improved glucose homeostasis, according to a study published in the April issue of Diabetes.

Noting that their previous studies showed high levels of thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) led to β-cell death, and that TXNIP levels could be reduced in the heart by calcium channel blockers, Guanlan Xu, Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, examined whether these drugs could reduce TXNIP levels in islets and in mouse models of diabetes.

The researchers found that verapamil significantly reduced the expression of TXNIP in human islets. Mice treated with verapamil had reduced TXNIP expression in islets, less β-cell death, greater endogenous insulin levels, and were protected against chemically-induced diabetes. Verapamil treatment of an obese, diabetes-prone mouse strain also resulted in greater β-cell survival, improved glucose homeostasis, and improved insulin sensitivity.

"Thus, for the first time, we have identified an oral medication that can inhibit proapoptotic β-cell TXNIP expression, enhance β-cell survival and function, and prevent and even improve overt diabetes," Xu and colleagues conclude.

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