Magazine article USA TODAY

Missing Link Found for Regulating Glucose

Magazine article USA TODAY

Missing Link Found for Regulating Glucose

Article excerpt

A biochemical signal that helps regulate the amount of glucose in the blood has been identified by a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. A better understanding of the way the body deals naturally with incorrect levels of glucose could lay the foundation for better treatments for type 1 diabetes, which occurs when a person is unable to produce the glucose-regulating hormone insulin.

There's a lot of interest in the field to determine how the brain detects and reacts to changes in blood glucose," indicates Alan Watts, professor of neurobiology.

Watts and his team discovered that enzymes known as mitogen-activated protein kinases form a critical link between changes in blood glucose levels, certain neurons in the hypothalamus, and the release of glucose-control ling hormones. "Nobody has shown that before," Watts relates.

Understanding in detail the way in which these neurons make necessary adjustments to blood glucose levels will provide important new insights into the complications of type 1 diabetes.

Currently, the way that type 1 diabetics can cope with hyperglycemia (too much glucose in the blood) is by giving themselves insulin shots. Insulin moves glucose out of the bloodstream and locks it up as glycogen in liver and muscle tissue. …

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