Molecules involved in inflammation, such as interleukin-1 (IL-1), have been implicated in Type 2 diabetes. The implication has led researchers at the Universities of L'Aquila and Catanzaro in Italy to wonder whether existing medications that lower interleukin-1 might be useful for treating Type 2 diabetes. Their study, reported on in February of 2019 in the journal Medicine (Baltimore) looked at people who had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and who were being treated with anakinra, (Kinaret), a drug used to treat several inflammatory diseases.
The Type 2 diabetics treated with anakinra for their active rheumatoid arthritis were observed for six months and compared with others who were taking different anti-arthritis medications. At three months and six months, the people who were being treated with anakinra showed less insulin resistance and lower glucagon levels than those treated with other medicines. Insulin resistance causes Type 2 diabetes. Glucagon raises blood sugar levels by stimulating the liver to produce sugar.
For adults, the standard dose of anakinra is 100mg a day, injected under the skin of the abdomen or thigh. It reduces symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in four to six weeks and symptoms of other inflammatory diseases much faster …
- redness, itching, rash, pain, bruising or bleeding can occur at the injection site, but the effects usually resolve after one or two weeks.
- headaches and low white blood cell counts have been reported, but are unusual.
Sufferers need to be monitored with blood counts and watched for infections. More severe side effects include …
- chest pain,
- breathing difficulty,
- a swollen face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Anakinra is also used to treat several other inflammatory diseases …
- juvenile idiopathic arthritis,
- calcium pyrophosphate deposition (pseudogout),
- Behcet's disease,
- ankylosing spondylitis,
- Still's disease, and
- neonatal-onset multisystem inflammatory disease.
Interleukin-1 is not all bad. It is involved in immunity. It is part of the family of molecules known as the cytokines, which are concerned with inflammation and immune regulation.
The two types of interleukin-1s are designated …
- alpha, and
They are created in macrophages, a kind of white blood cell, and various other cells. Interleukin-1 raises the body temperature to kill microscopic invaders and stimulates the production of interferon, an immune molecule, as well as several types of cells that help make up the immune system. It is given to fight melanoma, a variety of skin cancer, and kidney cancer.
We may have to learn to control the optimum amount of cytokines we need and to turn them on and off at will.