Disease Consciousness and Us: Diabetes Mellitus

(Guest Post: Written by A. Sri Mukesh)

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

The food we eat gets digested in the stomach. Digestion means breaking down of larger molecules into smaller and simpler molecules. For example, rice or bread that we eat gets converted into glucose. This glucose gets absorbed into the blood stream. When glucose levels in the blood are high, Beta cells of ‘Islets of Langerhans’ that are present in Pancreas secrete Insulin. Insulin converts glucose into glycogen (Glycogenesis) and stores it for future use. When blood glucose levels are low, Alpha cells of ‘Islets of Langerhans’ present in Pancreas secretes Glucagon which converts glycogen to glucose (Glycogenolysis). Improper levels of Insulin secretion or if secreted insulin fails to act, a condition called ‘Diabetes Mellitus’ occurs. 

The Current Scenario:

There are around 210 million people aged between 20-79 years, diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in 2008. 90-95% of these people are affected with Type-2 DM. Diabetes usually leads to coronary artery, cerebro-vascular and peripheral vascular complications.

The Causes:

Lack of Insulin secretion results in Type-1 DM whereas in Type-2 DM, beta cells produce insulin but the cells in the body fail to respond appropriately. Hence Type-2 DM is also called as Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM).

Primary structure of insulin :

H2N – GLY – ILE – VAL – GLU – GLN – CYS – CYS – THR – SER – ILE – CYS – SER – LEU – TYR – GLN – LEU – GLN – ASN – TYR – CSN – ASN – HCOO

Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes Mellitus (Photo credit: anaxolotl)

The response of the cells to this insulin ceases because of ‘oxidative stress’. Oxidative stress in general can be defined as ‘excess formation or insufficient removal of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS). These free radicals are very reactive. They oxidize the macro molecules like lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and nucleic acids, making them either toxic or dysfunctional.

Oxidative stress is caused mainly due to Hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is a condition where excess glucose levels are present in the blood.

Hyperglycemia increases the production of superoxide anions. Low concentrations of H2O2 activate NF-kB . NF-kB ( a cell-signalling pathway)  amplifies the production of NO (Nitric oxide) by activating an enzyme, Nitric Oxide Synthase (Ralf Schreck et al, 1992).

High concentrations of superoxide anions react with newly formed NO resulting in the formation of Peroxynitrate. The net result is an overall decline in the levels of NO in the endothelium and formation of peroxynitrate which itself is toxic to the cells. Lack of sufficient NO in the endothelium causes defective ‘endothelium dependent vasodialation’, leading to micro and macro vascular diseases.

Management and Prevention:

Hence monitoring the oxidative stress in diabetes affected patients is one way of monitoring the disease and it could be of vital importance in controlling or even preventing the disease and various complications surrounding it. The best way to fight Oxidative Stress is to increase the intake of Antioxidants. Raisins, Spinach, Blackberry, Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Broccoli, Red Bell Pepper and Oranges are the major antioxidant rich sources of food. 

The author has a B.Tech degree in Biotechnology and is currently pursuing his P.G.D.M. (Bio-Technology) from the Institute of Public EnterpriseHyderabad, India.

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©The Idea Bucket, 2013.(Guest Post: Written by A. Sri Mukesh)

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