In people with diabetes, interactions between the nervous system, hormones, and the immune system are disrupted. Two new studies conducted by international researchers highlight the role of a neurotransmitter called beta-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in this disruption in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
GABA is synthesized by an enzyme in nerve cells, as well as the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreatic islet, and it is important for maintaining, and possibly producing, beta cells. In type 1 diabetes, beta cells are destroyed and in type 2, their function is impaired leading to insulin resistance. while type 2 diabetes is associated with impaired beta cell function and insulin resistance.
These two studies, published in EBioMedicine, offer scientific evidence strengthening the role of GABA in diabetes. In ongoing studies, the researchers are focusing on clarifying its role further and discovering how existing drugs can decrease or copy the effects of GABA on immune system and beta cells.