Brain Stimulation Could Ease Diabetes Symptoms

By David Alliot – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

The premise is clear: Find a way to increase dopamine (a chemical released by nerve cells to stimulate pleasure) and the body’s natural ability to process sugar is increased — key to helping people with diabetes. This mode of regulating sugar control is well-known in mice, but thanks to new research that led to human trials, the same appears to be true for humans.

Researchers at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam recruited 15 people in the study. Interestingly, one of the participants, a man who had been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, had already been treated with electrodes implanted in his brain to stimulate reward-seeking and decision-making in order to relieve his OCD symptoms.

The “deep brain stimulation,” or DBS, not only helped with his OCD, it appeared to improve elevated sugar numbers due to his Type 2 diabetes. He was able to back off his medication (he went from 226 IU of insulin, to 180 IU) and not be so reliant on insulin, Science Translational Medicine reported.

The 14 other men and women did not have diabetes, but did have the DBS implants for OCD. Researchers turned off the DBS devices for 17 hours and measured participants’ fasting blood sugar levels and responses to insulin. DBS significantly increased insulin sensitivity in all participants — easing diabetes symptoms.

Researchers also wanted to be sure dopamine was the reason for the change. So they gave 10 healthy men a drug that depletes dopamine levels. In all, insulin sensitivity decreased, cementing the connection, they reported.

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