The aim of the project was to find out how the healthy body regulates glucose concentrations in the blood.
Scientists have known for a long time that glucose is regulated with the help of hormones in the pancreas, which is to say that pancreatic beta cells produce insulin, which reduces sugar levels, and that alpha cells produce glucagon, which boosts them. This glucose balance must be kept within a very narrow interval, and we need both insulin and glucagon to remain in good health.
"A person with low blood sugar levels feels poorly and faint; a person with excessively high blood sugar levels gets diabetes," says Per-Olof Berggren, professor of experimental endocrinology at Karolinska Institutet and the leader of this study.
Much more is known about insulin secretion than glucagon secretion, and so Professor Berggren's team focused on the latter. They discovered that alpha cells also secreted glutamate, which facilitates glucagon release and makes it more efficient.
The scientists are working on the hypothesis that when glucose levels are raised in a healthy person, the beta cells become active and start to release insulin, which reduces sugar concentrations in the blood, upon which the alpha cells then start to secrete glucagon and glutamate. In this context, glutamate acts as a positive signal that tells the alpha cells that it is time to accelerate the production of glucagon to prevent glucose levels from falling too low.
"It's this signal pathway that is our discovery," says Professor Berggren. "This interaction between beta cells and alpha cells is crucial for normal blood sugar regulation."
The discovery also means that when the beta cells fail to produce insulin properly, as is the case in diabetes, the alpha cells' signal path is also blocked, which upsets the glucose balance even more. The team hope that their discovery of the signal pathway will eventually give new impetus to clinical diabetes research.
"Maybe we'll be able to achieve better blood sugar regulation in diabetes patients if we target more the glucagon/glutamate rather than just the insulin", says Professor Berggren.
Publication: 'Glutamate is a positive autocrine signal for glucagon release'. Authors: O Cabrera, MC Jaques-Silva, S Speier, S-N Yang, M Köler, A Fachado, E Vieira, JR Zierath, R Kibbey, DM Berman, NS Kenyon, C Ricordi, A Caicedo and P-O Berggren. Cell Metabolism, 4 June 2008.
For further information, please contact:Professor Per-Olof Berggren,
Katarina Sternudd | idw
Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences