High blood sugar with diabetes triggers infection: Study

High blood sugar with diabetesOver time high blood sugar linked with diabetes can cause serious health consequences. High blood sugar is associated with kidney failure, stroke, heart attack, nerve damage and erectile dysfunction. New findings suggest that high blood sugar from diabetes can lead to immune system malfunction, which can trigger infection.

Scientist from Case Western Reserve said they may have uncovered a molecule that can cause dangerous infection in the feet and hands linked with uncontrolled diabetes. High blood sugar interferes with the body’s natural infection-control defenses.


The harmful molecules are called dicarbonyls. These molecules are a breakdown product of glucose, which interferes with infection-controlling antimicrobial peptides – beta-defensins. The research team uncovered two molecules’ – methylglyoxal (MGO) and glyoxal (GO) – that altered the structure of human beta-defensin-2 (hBD-2) peptides, hobbling their ability to fight inflammation and infection.

Their findings can very well contribute to improving anti-microbial peptide drugs for individuals with hard to control infections or wounds.

“If our findings hold up in future in vivo animal experiments and in human tissues, we will have solid evidence for how this dicarbonyl mechanism works in the setting of uncontrolled diabetes to weaken hBD-2 function, and that of other beta-defensins,” said senior author Wesley Williams.

Through observations and comparisons of molecules scientists noted the dicarbonyls cut the hBD-2 function by nearly 50 percent. They repeated the test several times using different bacteria and noted a reduction in all tests. “It establishes that the antimicrobial function was being significantly impeded by the MGO dicarbonyl,” said Williams.

Further studies are required on animal and human tissues to verify the findings.

“The body does have defense mechanisms against molecules such as dicarbonyl, but with a chronic disease such as diabetes, the effectiveness of these defense mechanisms responsible for keeping dicarbonyl levels under control may be overwhelmed,” added Williams.


Currently, effective techniques to control blood sugar are through diet, exercise and medication. With roughly 29.1 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, research findings like this one can help improve diabetic outcomes and better heal hard to treat infections.

The findings were published in PLOS ONE.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.