Scientists have discovered a fish that has very high blood glucose levels , but none of its negative consequences. The animal has a gene that makes it diabetic , but lives healthy. According to the specialists, the fish benefits from its condition, which arouses research on whether it could help find a cure for this pathology in humans.
“Deregulation of glucose normally causes a lot of problems, but not in this animal. In fact, it seems that he benefits from it, “explained Ariel Aspiras, a Harvard researcher and co-author of the study published in the prestigious journal Nature.
The animal in question is a blind Mexican tetra fish (Astyanax mexicanus ). He has no eyes and lives in about thirty caves in Mexico. His glucose levels are high, he is resistant to insulin, but he does not suffer from any of the negative consequences of diabetes.
Nicolas Rohner, also a researcher at Harvard, explained to ABC that this blind fish is a great opportunity to find out how some animals get ahead with traits that make humans sick. “We do not know if studying this fish will help us directly, but evolution has tested many variants of mutations for millions of years and I think it’s smarter than anything we can create,” he said.
“The cavefish have high blood sugar, but no sugarcoated proteins. How do they do that?” Asks scientist Misty Riddle, co-author of the study. The answer is a mystery, but could lead to new treatments against the damage caused by diabetes , the scientist said.
Evolution has devised, at least, two ways to create a metabolism characterized by high levels of blood glucose, which seems to increase the survival of fish in an environment where food is scarce and arrives only at certain times.
The key is that cavefish do not show the typical symptom of excessive glycation, which occurs when sugar molecules adhere to the proteins of the cellular machinery and prevent them from functioning properly, the scientists explain.
In addition, the long life expectancy (14 years) of these blind fish, despite their diabetes, shows that they have developed strategies that prevent sugar from binding proteins and causing damage to their body.