It is well known that insulin is used to treat diabetes but it appears from a new study published in the Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis that chronic bowel inflammation can be treated effectively by injecting insulin into the rectum.
‘Our new treatment with insulin on mice shows great potential against chronic bowel inflammation in humans like Colitis Ulcerosa, which causes a lot of people great discomfort. Existing treatments attack the bowel’s immune system, dampening it; instead, our method strengthens the bowel cells’ own defense. It appears to work equally well, and it can probably be used in combination with existing treatments’, says Jorgen Olsen, co-inventor of the treatment and professor at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Copenhagen.
The cause of these bowel disorders is unknown, but they cause patients great discomfort and can involve bloody diarrhea, anemia, stomach ache, and weight loss.
There are many modes of actions of insulin. First, they have shown that the amount of inflammation, expressed as the level of the marker Cox2, drops by 50 percent compared to the saltwater control treatment. That is more or less the same effect shown in tests on mice prior to the launch of the existing treatment in the market.
Second, the researchers have measured the body weight of the mice. It is known that people suffering from colitis typically lose a lot of weight because they do not eat much.Using the new insulin treatment the mice lose 15-20 percent less weight than the control group, and following treatment, they gain weight 50 percent faster, which is an important sign of health.
The insulin works because it activates a gene inside the bowel cells, which, according to other studies, has an antioxidant effect and thus may be able to protect the bowel cells from inflammation. This makes the new treatment different from existing medication, which instead of strengthening the bowel’s defense weakens the immune system’s attack on the bowel. And therefore the researchers hope the new treatment can be combined with the existing.
“Rectal insulin therapy can potentially be a novel treatment targeting the epithelial layer to enhance mucosal healing in the ulcerated areas. Our findings open up new possibilities for combination treatments to synergize with the existing anti-inflammatory therapies”, write the authors.
For reference log on to https://doi.org/10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjy112