Author(s): Quraishi I, Collins S, Pestaner JP, Harris T, Bagasra O
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Abstract Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. An estimated 18.2 million people in the US (6.3\%) have diabetes; among them 2.8 million are African Americans (AAs). On average, AAs are twice as likely to have diabetes as European Americans (EAs) of similar age. AAs disproportionately suffer from various diseases in the US. Many of these diseases include hypertension, cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes mellitus (DM-beta predominantly Type II), and cancers of the prostate and pancreas. A number of risk factors such as smoking, a high fat diet, little physical activity, stress, and meager access to health care have been the subject of numerous investigations. However, the factor of the interaction between genetics and the environment has received very little attention in the scientific community. Of note, the content of zinc in pancreatic beta gells is among the highest in the body; however, very little is known about the uptake and storage of zinc inside these cells. We hypothesize that one of the major reason AAs disproportionally suffer from DM (as well as some other illnesses like prostate cancer, CVD and hypertension) is due to their inherent inability to transport appropriate amount of zinc in the crucial cell types that require relatively higher amount of zinc than the other cell types. In this article, we will explore in detail the possible genetic and environmental link between human zinc transporters (hZIPs) and their differential expressions in the islet beta cells from AAs as compared to other racial groups, particularly EAs, in both normal healthy individuals and diabetic patients. We hypothesize that the hZIPs play an important role in the development of diabetes, and the main reason AAs disproportionately suffer from DM (as well as other illnesses like prostate and pancreatic cancers, hypertension, and CVD) as compared to EAs may be due the low degree of expressions of the critical zinc transporters in the beta cells. Understanding the molecular events in the pathogenesis of DM with regards to regulation of zinc uptake would be critical to the evaluation of the natural history of diabetes in humans and especially in various racial groups. If a direct link between zinc transport and diabetes can be established, then a special nutritional formula, medication or other intervention might be especially designed to test the ability to decrease the incidence of this disease in DM susceptible groups, particularly in AAs.
This article was published in Med Hypotheses
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism