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Free access

Pieter-Jan Martens, Conny Gysemans, and Chantal Mathieu

Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents, but remains unpreventable and incurable. The discovery of insulin, already 100 years ago, embodied a lifesaver for people with type 1 diabetes as it allowed the replacement of all functions of the beta cell. Nevertheless, despite all technological advances, the majority of type 1 diabetic patients fail to reach the recommended target HbA1c levels. The disease-associated complications remain the true burden of affected individuals and necessitate the search for disease prevention and reversal. The recognition that type 1 diabetes is a heterogeneous disease with an etiology in which both the innate and adaptive immune system as well as the insulin-producing beta cells intimately interact, has fostered the idea that treatment to specific molecular or cellular characteristics of the patient groups will be needed. Moreover, robust and reliable biomarkers to detect type 1 diabetes in the early (pre-symptomatic) phases are wanted to preserve functional beta cell mass. The pitfalls of past therapeutics along with the perspectives of current therapies can open up the path for future research.

Open access

Nele Cielen, Nele Heulens, Karen Maes, Geert Carmeliet, Chantal Mathieu, Wim Janssens, and Ghislaine Gayan-Ramirez

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with skeletal muscle dysfunction. Vitamin D plays an important role in muscle strength and performance in healthy individuals. Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in COPD, but its role in skeletal muscle dysfunction remains unclear. We examined the time-course effect of vitamin D deficiency on limb muscle function in mice with normal or deficient vitamin D serum levels exposed to air or cigarette smoke for 6, 12 or 18 weeks. The synergy of smoking and vitamin D deficiency increased lung inflammation and lung compliance from 6 weeks on with highest emphysema scores observed at 18 weeks. Smoking reduced body and muscle mass of the soleus and extensor digitorum longus (EDL), but did not affect contractility, despite type II atrophy. Vitamin D deficiency did not alter muscle mass but reduced muscle force over time, downregulated vitamin D receptor expression, and increased muscle lipid peroxidation but did not alter actin and myosin expression, fiber dimensions or twitch relaxation time. The combined effect of smoking and vitamin D deficiency did not further deteriorate muscle function but worsened soleus mass loss and EDL fiber atrophy at 18 weeks. We conclude that the synergy of smoking and vitamin D deficiency in contrast to its effect on lung disease, had different, independent but important noxious effects on skeletal muscles in a mouse model of mild COPD.