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The immune-opioid axis in prediabetes: predicting prediabetes with insulin resistance by plasma interleukin-10 and endomorphin-2 to kappa-opioid receptors ratio

Published: 7 June 2021
Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome , Volume 13, pp 1-11; doi:10.1186/s13098-021-00677-w

Abstract: Background Prediabetes is characterized by a hemoglobin A1c of 5.7–6.4% and fasting blood glucose of 100–125 mg/dl. A high percentage of prediabetes subjects develop type 2 diabetes mellitus in the next years. The effects of opioid peptides and their receptors, in addition to immunological cytokines, on prediabetes are not well understood. Therefore, molecular, physiological, and clinical studies are required to link the opioid system, immune system, and insulin resistance (IR) in prediabetes. We hypothesize that opioid peptides (endomorphin-2 (EM2), and β-endorphin (βEP)), and their receptors (µ-opioid receptors (MOR) and κ-opioid receptors (KOR)), in addition to the inflammatory cytokines (IL-6) and anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL-10), affect IR parameters in patients with prediabetes. Methods Sixty prediabetes patients with IR (prediabetes+IR) and sixty prediabetes patients without IR (prediabetes-IR), in addition to 58 controls, have participated in the study. IL-6, IL-10, EM2, βEP, MOR, and KOR were measured by the ELISA technique. Results In general, most prediabetes subjects have dyslipidemia. The IL-6, IL-10, β-endorphin, MOR, and endomorphin-2 were higher in the prediabetes subgroups than the control group. The immune system was activated in the prediabetes in an IR-dependent manner. Prediabetes+IR can be predicted by the increased levels of IL-10, βEP, and EM2 and by the combination of IL-10 and EM2/KOR with good sensitivity and specificity. Conclusion Opioid peptides and their receptors were upregulated in patients with prediabetes, depending on the significance of IR and the immune cytokines. The intercorrelation between the immune system, EOS, and insulin in prediabetes was confirmed.
Keywords: Prediabetes / Insulin resistance / Interleukin / Endorphin / Endogenous opioid receptor

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