CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: May 22, 2000
(NOTE TO EDITORS: Joseph Dillon's M.B. degree is the European equivalent
of an American medical degree -- M.D.)
UI researcher receives grant to study hormone's effect on insulin
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A University of Iowa Health Care researcher has received
a five-year, $970,000 award from the National Institute on Aging to study
the relation between a hormone produced by the adrenal gland and insulin secretion.
Joseph Dillon, M.B., UI assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology
in the department of internal medicine and an Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical
Center researcher, will study dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), which
has a higher concentration level in the human blood stream than any other
"Unlike other hormones, DHEAS blood level peaks in the second decade
of life then falls continuously with aging," Dillon said. "Lower
DHEAS levels are associated with coronary artery disease, obesity and diabetes.
Because of these features, it has become a popular nutritional supplement.
However, neither the mechanisms of these associations nor DHEAS function in
the body are understood."
DHEAS has previously been shown to improve diabetes and control obesity
in various animals. Dillon has already found that the hormone stimulates insulin
secretion in rats. A lack of functional insulin can cause diabetes. His newly
funded project will explore how DHEAS affects insulin-secreting cells from
both rodents and humans.
Dillon and his colleagues hope to discover new ways of stimulating insulin
"The findings may eventually reveal new targets for drug development
in diabetes," Dillon said. "We also hope to explore the possible
role of falling DHEAS levels in the development of diabetes, obesity and other
disorders of aging."
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the
UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care,
medical education and research programs and services they provide.