What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a medical condition which affects the way the body metabolizes sugar. This condition is caused by elevated blood sugar levels in the body which is either to inadequate production of insulin or the body does not respond to insulin properly. Diabetes usually presents with symptoms such as frequent urination, increasing thirst and unexplained hunger.
Diabetes is classified into three types: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. This is also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, juvenile diabetes, or early-onset diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin. This is also known as insulin resistance. This type of diabetes can be prevented with weight loss, a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. However, if untreated this can progress and cause complications. Most people who develop type 2 diabetes are often overweight or obese. People with a lot of visceral fat, also known as central obesity, belly fat, or abdominal obesity, are especially at risk. Gestational diabetes affects pregnant females who have very high levels of glucose in their blood. These women do not have enough insulin to transport all glucose into cells.
Diabetes is diagnosed by physicians using laboratory tests such as the A1C test, FPG (fasting plasma glucose) test and OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test). For the A1C test, at least 6.5% means diabetes, between 5.7% and 5.99% means prediabetes and less than 5.7% means normal. For the FPG (fasting plasma glucose) test, at least 126 mg/dl means diabetes, between 100 mg/dl and 125.99 mg/dl means prediabetes and less than 100 mg/dl means normal. An abnormal reading following the FPG means the patient has impaired fasting glucose (IFG). For the OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test), at least 200 mg/dl means diabetes, between 140 and 199.9 mg/dl means prediabetes and less than 140 mg/dl means normal. An abnormal reading following the OGTT means the patient has impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).
Diabetes needs to be treated as soon as possible. If untreated, diabetes can lead to various complications involving the eye, the feet, the skin, the cardiovascular system, the brain, the oral area, the kidney and other organs. Eye complications include glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and some others. Foot complications include neuropathy, ulcers, and sometimes gangrene which may require that the foot be amputated. Skin complications include skin infections and skin disorders. Heart problems may include ischemic heart disease, when the blood supply to the heart muscle is diminished. There may also be hypertension, hearing loss, gum disease, depression, anxiety, mental disorders, gastroparesis, ketoacidosis, neuropathy, HHNS (Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome), nephropathy, PAD (peripheral arterial disease), stroke, erectile dysfunction, infections and slow healing of wounds.
Mitochondrial Health of Cells Is Regulated By Diabetes Susceptibility Gene
A recent study made by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that a susceptibility gene for type 1 diabetes regulates self-destruction of the cell’s mitrochondria. The findings of this study were reported in the journal cell. The researchers have found out that the gene, Clec16a, when in pancreas cells, is required for normal glucose-stimulated insulin release. Mice with a pancreas-specific deletion of Clec16a have abnormal mitochondria that produce less ATP, which is required for normal beta cell function, and ultimately insulin secretion. Specifically, they determined that the loss of Clec16a leads to an increase in Parkin, a master regulator of mitophagy. What’s more, the team found that the final disposal of unhealthy mitochondria was also defective.
More medical breakthroughs can be found on the other articles of this site.