Diabetes and the Endocrine Pancreas: A Biochemical Approach

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Recruiting a physician to join your practice or healthcare institution is a year-round proposition, so ensuring that candidates are fully informed about your expectation and needs will save you time and money. We work closely with organizations and expert medical professionals to advance the legislative priorities that matter most to you. Your success as an endocrinologist relies, in part, on compliance with complex state and federal laws, rules and regulations.

From proper coding and billing to documentation, electronic health records and more, understanding these rules and regulations is essential to practicing medicine. Here are the resources that can help reduce your burden. Diabetes is diagnosed when lab tests reveal that blood glucose levels are higher than normal, a condition called hyperglycemia.

The treatment of diabetes depends on the type, the severity of the condition, and the ability of the patient to make lifestyle changes. As noted earlier, moderate weight loss, regular physical activity, and consumption of a healthful diet can reduce blood glucose levels. Some patients with type 2 diabetes may be unable to control their disease with these lifestyle changes, and will require medication.

Historically, the first-line treatment of type 2 diabetes was insulin. Research advances have resulted in alternative options, including medications that enhance pancreatic function. Visit this link to view an animation describing the role of insulin and the pancreas in diabetes. The pancreas has both exocrine and endocrine functions. The pancreatic islet cell types include alpha cells, which produce glucagon; beta cells, which produce insulin; delta cells, which produce somatostatin; and PP cells, which produce pancreatic polypeptide.

Insulin and glucagon are involved in the regulation of glucose metabolism. Insulin is produced by the beta cells in response to high blood glucose levels. It enhances glucose uptake and utilization by target cells, as well as the storage of excess glucose for later use.

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Dysfunction of the production of insulin or target cell resistance to the effects of insulin causes diabetes mellitus, a disorder characterized by high blood glucose levels. The hormone glucagon is produced and secreted by the alpha cells of the pancreas in response to low blood glucose levels. Glucagon stimulates mechanisms that increase blood glucose levels, such as the catabolism of glycogen into glucose.

If an autoimmune disorder targets the alpha cells, production of which hormone would be directly affected?

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What would be the physiological consequence of a disease that destroyed the beta cells of the pancreas? Skip to content Increase Font Size. Chapter The Endocrine System. Learning Objectives By the end of this section, you will be able to: Describe the location and structure of the pancreas, and the morphology and function of the pancreatic islets Compare and contrast the functions of insulin and glucagon.

Diabetes Mellitus (DM)

Review Questions 1. Which of the following statements about insulin is true? Insulin acts as a transport protein, carrying glucose across the cell membrane. Insulin facilitates the movement of intracellular glucose transporters to the cell membrane. Insulin stimulates the breakdown of stored glycogen into glucose. Insulin stimulates the kidneys to reabsorb glucose into the bloodstream. Critical Thinking Questions 1. Why is foot care extremely important for people with diabetes mellitus?

Solutions Answers for Review Questions D B Answers for Critical Thinking Questions The beta cells produce the hormone insulin, which is important in the regulation of blood glucose levels. All insulin-dependent cells of the body require insulin in order to take up glucose from the bloodstream. Destruction of the beta cells would result in an inability to produce and secrete insulin, leading to abnormally high blood glucose levels and the disease called type 1 diabetes mellitus. Blood samples are then drawn to determine the effect of stimulating or suppressing an endocrine organ on the production of hormones.

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For example, to diagnose diabetes mellitus, patients are required to fast for 12 to 24 hours. They are then given a sugary drink, which stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin to decrease blood-glucose levels. A blood sample is taken one to two hours after the sugar drink is consumed. If the pancreas is functioning properly, the blood-glucose level will be within a normal range. Another example is the A1C test, which can be performed during blood screening. The A1C test measures average blood-glucose levels over the past two to three months. The A1C test is an indicator of how well blood glucose is being managed over a long time.

Once a disease such as diabetes has been diagnosed, endocrinologists can prescribe lifestyle changes and medications to treat the disease. If the disease cannot be controlled by these means, the endocrinologist may prescribe insulin injections. In addition to clinical practice, endocrinologists may also be involved in primary research and development activities. For example, ongoing islet transplant research is investigating how healthy pancreas islet cells may be transplanted into diabetic patients.

Successful islet transplants may allow patients to stop taking insulin injections. Hormones cause changes in target cells by binding to specific cell-surface or intracellular hormone receptors, molecules embedded in the cell membrane or floating in the cytoplasm with a binding site that matches a binding site on the hormone molecule.

In this way, even though hormones circulate throughout the body and come into contact with many different cell types, they only affect cells that possess the necessary receptors. Receptors for a specific hormone may be found on or in many different cells or may be limited to a small number of specialized cells.

For example, thyroid hormones act on many different tissue types, stimulating metabolic activity throughout the body.

Cells can have many receptors for the same hormone but often also possess receptors for different types of hormones. Additionally, the number of receptors available to respond to a hormone can change over time, resulting in increased or decreased cell sensitivity. In up-regulation, the number of receptors increases in response to rising hormone levels, making the cell more sensitive to the hormone and allowing for more cellular activity. When the number of receptors decreases in response to rising hormone levels, called down-regulation, cellular activity is reduced.

The endocrine glands secrete hormones into the surrounding interstitial fluid; those hormones then diffuse into blood and are carried to various organs and tissues within the body. The endocrine glands include the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal glands, gonads, pineal, and pancreas.

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The pituitary gland, sometimes called the hypophysis, is located at the base of the brain Figure It is attached to the hypothalamus. The posterior lobe stores and releases oxytocin and antidiuretic hormone produced by the hypothalamus. The anterior lobe responds to hormones produced by the hypothalamus by producing its own hormones, most of which regulate other hormone-producing glands. The anterior pituitary produces six hormones: growth hormone, prolactin, thyroid-stimulating hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone.

Growth hormone stimulates cellular activities like protein synthesis that promote growth. Prolactin stimulates the production of milk by the mammary glands. The other hormones produced by the anterior pituitary regulate the production of hormones by other endocrine tissues Table The posterior pituitary is significantly different in structure from the anterior pituitary. It is a part of the brain, extending down from the hypothalamus, and contains mostly nerve fibers that extend from the hypothalamus to the posterior pituitary.

Endocrine System – Concepts of Biology – 1st Canadian Edition

The thyroid gland is located in the neck, just below the larynx and in front of the trachea Figure It is a butterfly-shaped gland with two lobes that are connected. The thyroid follicle cells synthesize the hormone thyroxine, which is also known as T 4 because it contains four atoms of iodine, and triiodothyronine, also known as T 3 because it contains three atoms of iodine. T 3 and T 4 are released by the thyroid in response to thyroid-stimulating hormone produced by the anterior pituitary, and both T3 and T4 have the effect of stimulating metabolic activity in the body and increasing energy use.

A third hormone, calcitonin, is also produced by the thyroid. Calcitonin is released in response to rising calcium ion concentrations in the blood and has the effect of reducing those levels. Most people have four parathyroid glands; however, the number can vary from two to six. These glands are located on the posterior surface of the thyroid gland Figure The parathyroid glands produce parathyroid hormone. Parathyroid hormone increases blood calcium concentrations when calcium ion levels fall below normal.

The adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney Figure The adrenal glands consist of an outer adrenal cortex and an inner adrenal medulla.

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These regions secrete different hormones. The adrenal cortex produces mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids, and androgens. The main mineralocorticoid is aldosterone, which regulates the concentration of ions in urine, sweat, and saliva. Aldosterone release from the adrenal cortex is stimulated by a decrease in blood concentrations of sodium ions, blood volume, or blood pressure, or by an increase in blood potassium levels. The glucocorticoids maintain proper blood-glucose levels between meals.

They also control a response to stress by increasing glucose synthesis from fats and proteins and interact with epinephrine to cause vasoconstriction. Androgens are sex hormones that are produced in small amounts by the adrenal cortex. They do not normally affect sexual characteristics and may supplement sex hormones released from the gonads. The adrenal medulla contains two types of secretory cells: one that produces epinephrine adrenaline and another that produces norepinephrine noradrenaline.