Analysis of metallothionein gene expression in oxidative stress related disorders
Increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been reported to be at the centre of various diseases. Although several reports have implicated elevated levels of ROS in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus, the early detection of ROS is still not attainable. This limitation causes difficulty in the early diagnosis of ROS related disorders. The presence of high levels of ROS was reported to result in differential expression of antioxidant genes involved in protecting cells from their deleterious effects. Among the antioxidant genes that are expressed, it was postulated that expression of metallothioneins (MTs) are also induced. MTs are low molecular weight, cysteine-rich proteins involved in metal homeostasis and reported to harbour antioxidant function. The aim of this investigation was to explore MTs as biomarkers for elevated levels of ROS in whole blood of type 2 diabetic (T2D) individuals. The level of ROS in diabetic, non-diabetic as well as individuals at risk of developing T2D was determined via the use of biochemical assays. Real-Time PCR was utilised to analyse the expression of MTs and the presence of MT proteins was analysed via the ELISA. In this study it was observed that diabetic individuals had elevated levels of ROS. However, no significant difference in the expression of MTs and the presence of MT proteins between the diabetic and non-diabetic individuals was observed. In vitro experimental conditions indicated that MT expression is induced by elevated levels of ROS. In pathological conditions the ROS-dependent induction of MT expression needs to be elucidated further. It therefore can be suggested that MTs can not yet be utilised as biomarkers for the detection of elevated levels of ROS in pathological conditions with ROS aetiology. This investigation also highlights the fact that blood is not an optimal medium in which this objective can be attained.