This glossary defines words and processes often used when discussing or describing diabetes. Most of these terms are also explained, as they relate to diabetes, in other chapters.
adrenal glands: the pair of organs, located on top of the kidneys, that make and release hormones including adrenaline (epinephrine) and corticosteroids, both of which affect the body's use of glucose.
alpha cells: cells in the islets of Langerhans (see below) that make and release glucagon, a hormone that raises the blood's glucose level.
amino acid: any of the compounds that are the basic building blocks of proteins. A chain of 51 of the amino acids makes up insulin.
antibody: group of molecules the body produces to combat a foreign substance or infecting agent (such as an antigen or virus) by weakening, destroying, or neutralizing it.
antigen: a substance or organism, usually containing a protein coating, that stimulates the body's immune system to produce an antibody.
aspartame: a very-low-calorie, synthetic sweetener, made