Excessive sugar consumption can promote inflammatory processes in the body and facilitate the development of autoimmune diseases. A research team at the University of Würzburg has now deciphered new details of these processes.
People who consume sugar and other carbohydrates in excess over a long period of time have an increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease. In affected patients, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissue and the consequences are, for example, chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, type 1 diabetes and chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland.
New targets for therapy
The underlying molecular mechanisms that promote autoimmune diseases are multilayered and complex. Now, scientists at the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg (JMU) have succeeded in deciphering new details of these processes. Their work support the notion that excessive consumption of glucose directly promotes the pathogenic functions of certain cells of the immune system and that, conversely, that a calorie-reduced diet can have a beneficial effect on immune diseases. Based on these findings, they also identified new targets for therapeutic interventions: A specific blockade of glucose-depended metabolic processes in these immune cells can suppress excessive immune reactions.
Dr. Martin Väth is responsible for the study, which has now been published in the journal Cell Metabolism. He is a junior research group leader at the Institute of Systems Immunology – a Max Planck research group under the umbrella of JMU that focusses on the interplay of the immune system with the organism. Collaborators from Amsterdam, Berlin, Freiburg and Leuven were also involved in this study.
Release date: 22 March 2022
Source: University of Würzburg