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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2021

Examining the Link Between Proinflammatory Cytokines and Insulin Production of the Pancreas of Fattening Ground Squirrels

Arianna Tsengouras

Senior, Biology


Obesity can lead to insulin resistance and develop into type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). C-peptide levels in the blood and proinflammatory pancreatic cytokines, interleukin (IL)-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, are good indicators of how the body is processing insulin and levels of inflammation that lead to the development of T2DM. C-peptide serves as a long-term measurement of insulin production. Thirteen-lined ground squirrels were used as a model for obesity as they fatten and develop insulin resistance as they approach their hibernation period. Treatment of the squirrels with anti-inflammatory drugs, a steroid and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), was attempted to decrease the inflammation in the pancreas and curb insulin and c-peptide production. Neither the NSAID nor steroid had a significant effect on c-peptide levels after treatment. The NSAID led to a decrease in TNF-α levels after 10 weeks of treatment, an effect that was common in male and female squirrels whereas the steroid treatment did not affect TNF-α levels. IL-6 levels decreased after 10 weeks of NSAID treatment and the steroid treatment decreased IL-6 levels in males but not females. Although insulin production is not affected, NSAID treatment is more effective than steroids at reducing pancreatic inflammation during fattening.

Project Background 

I really wanted to do research for my Honors Thesis and what better way to dive deeper into biology than by doing research. I learned more about squirrels this year than I ever thought possible. I learned about lab procedures that I have never done before and was able to work with others that have the same interest as me.

What Do You Think? 

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  1. Matthew Ringenberg

    I particularly enjoyed the poster. As a non-natural scientist I was playing catch-up but your descriptions of the statistics used were very helpful in allowing me to understand. Thank you

    • Arianna Tsengouras

      Thank you so much for your feedback, I really appreciate it!

  2. Abby Shreve

    Wow, amazing research and explanation! Congratulations! 🙂

    • Arianna Tsengouras

      Thank you so much!

  3. Elizabeth Wade-Sirabian

    Congratulations on completing this project and sharing the results so effectively! Arianna, do you plan on continuing your research on insulin processing and inflammation?

    • Arianna Tsengouras

      Thank you so much. As I am graduating I am unable to continue the research here at UWO, however, I do plan on staying up to date on research regarding insulin production and inflammation. I also plan to stay in contact with Dr. Kurtz to see more of the research develop over time.

  4. Linda Croft

    Well done presentation Arianna. Your didactic delivery was excellent and easily understood. Very interesting research on insulin and inflammation. Best of luck to you. You have a bright future ahead.

  5. Ethan Schmidt

    Awesome presentation! I find your topic extremely interesting and your project is very thorough and easy to comprehend. Do you know if there are any other applications your research with NSAIDs can be applied to (i.e. allergic reactions)?


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