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Gut Taste Mechanism Defective in Type 2 Diabetes Patients

First Posted: Aug 24, 2013 07:42 AM EDT
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A new study uncovered that the sweet tasting gut mechanism is abnormal in type 2 diabetes patients.

This is the first time that the researchers from the University of Adelaide have described the abnormal control of the 'sweet taste receptors' in the human intestine. This triggers problems with glucose use. This finding could be helpful in nutritious issues faced by diabetes patients.

The study was led by Dr. Richard Young, Senior Postdoctoral Researcher in the University of Adelaide's Nerve-Gut Research Laboratory. It says taste buds alone do not determine sweetness,  the gut plays a much larger role.

"When we talk about 'sweet taste', most people think of tasting sweet food on our tongue, but scientists have discovered that sweet taste receptors are present in a number of sites in the human body. We're now just beginning to understand the importance of the sweet taste receptors in the human intestine and what this means for sufferers of type 2 diabetes," Dr Young said in a news release.

Type 2 diabetes makes up for 90-95 percent of the diabetes cases and is generally linked to older age. Nearly 25.8 million people suffer from diabetes in the U.S. and 7 million people have undiagnosed diabetes. It is said that by 2050 1 in 3 adults will suffer from diabetes. In 2007, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

To proceed with the finding, the researchers compared healthy adults with type 2 diabetes patients. On glucose exposure, they noticed that in healthy adults, the control of sweet taste receptors in the intestine enabled their bodies to regulate the glucose intake in 30 minutes after exposure whereas abnormalities in diabetic adults led to rapid absorption of glucose.

On detecting the glucose in the intestine, the sweet taste receptors trigger a response that regulates the manner in which glucose is taken by the intestine. The researchers noticed that compared to healthy adults, the diabetes victims absorbed more glucose rapidly and in large quantities.

The study highlights that diabetes is not a disorder that is limited to pancreas and insulin, the gut too plays an effective role. They state the need for further studies to clearly understand the mechanism taking place in the gut.

"So far, we've seen what happens in people 30 minutes after glucose is delivered to the intestine, but we also need to study what happens over the entire period of digestion. There are also questions about whether or not the body responds differently to artificial sweeteners compared with natural glucose," he concludes.

The finding was documented in the journal Diabetes.

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