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What is Diabetes mellitus? A failure to control blood glucose levels and an impaired ability to store glucose in the form of liver and muscle glycogen

Symptoms of diabetes mellitus

Classic symptoms of diabetes are Frequent urination, with large volumes of urine (especially at night) Excessive thirst Hunger Weight loss Other symptoms Fatigue Blurry vision Gum and urinary tract infections Slow healing of skin Genital itching in women


After a meal excess glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and skeletal muscles) As glucose levels fall, the liver releases glucose into the blood stream to prevent hypoglycaemia.

Two hormones control this process Insulin and Glucagon Both are secreted in the pancreas by the Islets of Langerhans Beta () cells produce insulin Alpha (a) cells produce glucagon

Control of blood glucose levels by insulin and glucagon

Insulin and its effects

Insulin is a protein hormone which binds to specific receptors on the cell membrane of target cells and initiates the following Insulin binds to receptor Activated insulin receptor promotes movement of glucose transporter molecules from intracellular pool to the cell membrane Glucose transporters allow glucose to enter the cell When insulin levels decrease glucose transporters move from cell membrane to intracellular storage pool, where they can be recycled

Affects skeletal muscle , liver and fat cells and stimulates the uptake of glucose by these cells

Insulin increases the permeability of muscles to glucose as normally they are not very permeable
Liver cells are very permeable but become more so in the presence of insulin and they are also stimulated to increase glycogen formation

In obese individuals the number of insulin receptors decreases and therefore glucose uptake is decreased. This reduction in receptors leads to insulin resistance

Low blood glucose
Alpha cells of pancreas release glucagon Liver breaks down glycogen Glucose released into blood

Complications associated with diabetes


Kidney disease Nerve damage


risk of atherosclerosis

Impaired vision due to cataracts or damaged retinas.

Diabetic ulceration

Diabetes not controlled properly may lead to loss of sight through degeneration of retina.

Forms of diabetes mellitus

Type 1 (early onset, insulin dependent diabetes mellitus IDDM)
Type 2 (late onset, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus NIDDM)

Type 1 (IDDM)
Failure of the pancreas to produce adequate amounts of insulin as a result of an autoimmune response Accounts for 5-10% of cases The sympton weight loss is caused by body breaking down fat to supply energy as cells cannot utilise glucose Treatment = regular insulin injections subcutaneously

Type 2 (NIDDM)
Accounts for 95% of cases Associated with obesity Plasma insulin levels normal but cells are less sensitive to insulin (insulin resistance) Reduced uptake of insulin into skeletal muscle and fat cells Possibly due to a reduced number of insulin receptors on the cell membrane

In summary
insulin is produced but not used efficiently by the cells pancreas compensates by producing more insulin B cells become worn out and insulin production decreases Blood glucose increases and diabetes develops

For interactive game on diabetes see My Diabetic Dog At the Nobel Prize medical website Click here

Treatment for NIDDM

Diet Weight control Adequate exercise Begin an insulin increasing agent Lower blood pressure

Comparison of type 1 and type 2

type 1 Age under 20 type 2 over 40

% of diabetics
appearance of symptoms obesity at onset cell no. Condition of Cells of Islets Family history

less than 10%

rapid uncommon decreased inflamed uncommon

over 90%
slow common variable normal common