ASA Monitor February 2024, Vol. 88, 16.
Severity of tuberculosis in patients with type 2 diabetes
A collaborative study between A∗STAR Infectious Diseases Labs and the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School reveals that elevated glycerol levels contribute to increased severity of tuberculosis (TB) in experimental models with type 2 diabetes. TB caused 1.3 million deaths globally in 2022. Type 2 diabetes is associated with higher mortality rates due to TB, and patients with type 2 diabetes have a higher chance of TB relapse after treatment. The study found that type 2 diabetes led to more bacteria, tissue damage, and deaths when infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the pathogen causing TB. Elevated blood glycerol emerged as a crucial factor in the TB-type 2 diabetes interaction. Blocking Mtb’s ability to use glycerol for metabolism decreased lung damage severity, indicating that Mtb utilizes glycerol to drive TB disease severity in type 2 diabetes. This could pave the way for developing innovative therapeutics targeting elevated glycerol in TB patients with type 2 diabetes, addressing their heightened susceptibility to TB, particularly in the face of increasing drug resistance. The study identifies Mtb’s glycerol kinase as a potential TB drug development target.