Higher glucose levels in people with diabetes can form a sugar coating smothering the mechanisms the body used to fight infections, a British researcher says.
Dr. Daniel Mitchell of the University of Warwick’s Medical School in England and colleagues found glucose in the blood is similar in structure to two sugars — mannose and fucose — found on bacteria and fungi that signal the body infection need to be combated.
However, high levels of glucose can interfere with the binding of mannose and fucose by the specialized immune receptors and can inhibit these infection-fighting chemical processes. This interference may lead to chronic inflammatory disease and increased cardiovascular and kidney disease risks.
The study, published in the journal Immunobiology, finds the specialized receptors that recognize bacteria and fungi associated molecules can become “blinded” by unhealthy glucose levels and suggests this may help explain why diabetic complications often include increased risk of viral infections such as influenza.
“Our findings offer a new perspective on how high glucose can potentially affect immunity and thus exert a negative impact on health,” Mitchell says in a statement. “It also helps to emphasize the importance of good diet on preventing or controlling diseases such as diabetes.”