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Key points summary

This week …

  • You have learnt about how insulin acts as a messenger, telling the body to take up any extra glucose in the blood (step 1.4).

This helps keep blood glucose levels in the right range and so helps prevent complications such as heart disease from developing when blood glucose levels are too high. Insulin also tells the body to store away the extra glucose for times when there is too little glucose.

  • You have also learnt about what diabetes is (step 1.9), especially the 2 main types, type 1 diabetes (no insulin produced) (step 1.5) and type 2 diabetes (body does not respond properly to insulin) (step 1.6).

  • You have been introduced to our two patient case studies Carlos (step 1.7) and Seema (step 1.8) who you will continue to come across during the rest of the course. We use their stories to illustrate the key issues and treatment of patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

  • You have learnt how the body maintains safe blood glucose concentrations by using insulin and other hormones to regulate key physiological processes (steps 1.11 - 1.14):

For those of you who went into greater depth, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge of:

  • Decreasing blood glucose concentrations through the actions of insulin on glucose transport, glucose storage as glycogen, and glucose utilisation to produce ATP.

  • Increasing blood glucose concentrations through the actions of glucagon and other catabolic hormones to produce new glucose from non-carbohydrate sources (gluconeogenesis) and release glucose from glycogen (glycogenolysis).

  • How insulin works to control these processes.

This helps us to understand what happens in healthy people, so that we can better understand what happens in diabetes, when insulin is absent, at low levels or the body is resistant to the actions of insulin.

This means that the regulation of high concentrations of blood glucose is limited, causing the acute and chronic complications seen in diabetes.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding Insulin

University of Southampton