• Blood sugar regulation

    Blood sugar regulation

    • Blood sugar regulation is the process by which the levels of blood sugar, primarily glucose, are maintained by the body within a narrow range. This phenomenon of tight regulation is commonly referred to as glucose homeostasis. Insulin and glucagon are the most well known of the hormones involved, but more recent discoveries of other glucoregulatory hormones have expanded our understanding of this process.

      Blood sugar levels are regulated by negative feedback in order to keep the body in homeostasis. The levels of glucose in the blood are monitored by many tissues, but the cells in the pancreas's Islets of Langerhans are among the most well understood and important.

      If the blood glucose level falls to dangerous levels (as in very heavy exercise or lack of food for extended periods), the Alpha cells of the pancreas release glucagon, a hormone whose effects on liver cells act to increase blood glucose levels. They convert glycogen into glucose (this process is called glycogenolysis). The glucose is released into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar. Hypoglycemia, the state of having low blood sugar, is treated by restoring the blood glucose level to normal by the ingestion or administration of dextrose or carbohydrate foods. It is often self-diagnosed and self-medicated orally by the ingestion of balanced meals. In more severe circumstances, it is treated by injection or infusion of glucagon.

      When levels of blood sugar rise, whether as a result of glycogen conversion, or from digestion of a meal, a different hormone is released from beta cells found in the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. This hormone, insulin, causes the liver to convert more glucose into glycogen (this process is called glycogenesis), and to force about 2/3 of body cells (primarily muscle and fat tissue cells) to take up glucose from the blood through the GLUT4 transporter, thus decreasing blood sugar. When insulin binds to the receptors on the cell surface, vesicles containing the GLUT4 transporters come to the plasma membrane and fuse together by the process of endocytosis, thus enabling a facilitated diffusion of glucose into the cell. As soon as the glucose enters the cell, it is phosphorylated into Glucose-6-Phosphate in order to preserve the concentration gradient so glucose will continue to enter the cell. Insulin also provides signals to several other body systems, and is the chief regulator of metabolic control in humans.

      Hormone Tissue of Origin Metabolic Effect Effect on Blood Glucose
      Insulin Pancreatic β Cells 1) Enhances entry of glucose into cells; 2) Enhances storage of glucose as glycogen , or conversion to fatty acids; 3) Enhances synthesis of fatty acids and proteins; 4) Suppresses breakdown of proteins into amino acids, of adipose tissue into free fatty acids. Lowers
      Amylin Pancreatic β Cells 1) Suppresses glucagon secretion after eating; 2) Slows gastric emptying; 3) Reduces food intake. Lowers
      GLP-1 Intestinal L cells 1) Enhances glucose-dependent insulin secretion; 2) Suppresses glucagon secretion after eating; 3) Slows gastric emptying; 4) Reduces food intake. (Only works while food is in the gut) Lowers
      Glucagon Pancreatic α Cells 1) Enhances release of glucose from glycogen (glycogenolysis); 2) Enhances synthesis of glucose (gluconeogenesis) from amino acids or fats. Raises
      Asprosin White adipose tissue 1) Enhances release of liver glucose during fasting. Raises
      Somatostatin Pancreatic δ Cells 1) Suppresses glucagon release from α cells (acts locally); 2) Suppresses release of Insulin, Pituitary tropic hormones, gastrin and secretin. Lowers
      Epinephrine Adrenal medulla 1) Enhances release of glucose from glycogen; 2) Enhances release of fatty acids from adipose tissue. Raises
      Cortisol Adrenal cortex 1) Enhances gluconeogenesis; 2) Antagonizes Insulin. Raises
      ACTH Anterior pituitary 1) Enhances release of cortisol; 2) Enhances release of fatty acids from adipose tissue. Raises
      Growth Hormone Anterior pituitary Antagonizes Insulin Raises
      Thyroxine Thyroid 1) Enhances release of glucose from glycogen; 2) Enhances absorption of sugars from intestine Raises

  • What Else?

    • Blood sugar regulation