According to a study, researchers determine that Depression in type-1 diabetes patients is associated with higher levels of the inflammatory protein galectin-3. These findings suggest that galectin-3 levels may be useful for diagnosis of depression or may be a new target for treating depression associated with type-1 diabetes, which could lead to better patient care. The study was published in Endocrine Connections.

It is well established that people with both type-1 and type-2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing depression, a debilitating mental health disorder with potentially serious consequences, but the causes remain poorly understood. Galectin-3 is a key protein involved in promoting inflammatory immune system responses that are needed to repair tissue damage throughout the body, in response to injury.

Factors

Researchers measured the galectin-3 levels of 283 men and women, aged 18-59, with type-1 diabetes, for at least one year. Incidence of depression in these patients was self-reported and assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale-Depression subscale and possible confounding influences of lifestyle factors including heart disease, smoking managed diabetes were accounted for in the analysis.

Type-1 diabetes

The researchers found that both men and women with type-1 diabetes and depression also had significantly higher galectin-3 levels. They found that people with type-1 diabetes and depression had higher galectin-3 levels, yet no other diabetes-related metabolic changes could account for these elevated levels.

The team now plan to further investigate the link between type-1 diabetes, depression and galectin-3, as although these findings indicate that galectin-3 levels are associated with diabetes and depression, they are not sufficient to show any causative relationship.

Larger, long-term studies are needed, as well as further analyses investigating how galectin-3 levels are linked to the increased risk of depression, what inflammatory processes are altered, and whether they can be targeted to treat depression.

Depression is a common disorder with very serious and debilitating consequences, so these findings suggest that further investigating the role of galectin-3 could lead to improved diagnosis and maybe better treatment outcomes for patients in the future.