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Homeostatic Control Of Blood Glucose Levels Essay Topics

Homeostatic Control of Blood Glucose Levels Essay

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Homeostatic Control of Blood Glucose Levels

Glucose is an essential substance in the body as it is the primary source of energy for all biological functions and is indeed the only form of energy which can be used by the brain and central nervous system. The ideal level of blood glucose is 80 - 90mg of glucose per 100mls of blood. However this level is not static - it oscillates due to changes in the body which are brought about by actions such as eating a meal, exercising, or not eating for long periods. If blood glucose levels drop or rise dramatically there may be serious consequences such as hypo- or hyperglycaemia which can both cause death. Thus it is necessary for blood glucose levels to be…show more content…

The level of blood glucose is constantly monitored by the beta cells. As the effects of insulin bring down the blood glucose level the cells secrete less and less of the hormone in accordance with the falling level of blood glucose - this continues until levels return to normal.

The corresponding effect of this antagonistic mechanism occurs when blood glucose level have fallen too low - this is detected in the Islets of Langerhans by the alpha cells which are stimulated to produce glucagon. This hormone acts in two main ways to raise blood glucose concentration back to normal levels. Firstly, it stimulates the process of glycogenolysis whereby the liver and muscle cells convert glycogen into glucose to be discharged into the blood. In addition, it increases gluconeogenesis so that more glucose is synthesised from protein and fat sources. However if glucagon is allowed to encourage the production of glucose unchecked, the liver will begin to produce ketones which dangerously disrupt the acid/base balance in the body. The two

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Blood Sugar Regulation

Photo by: Andrew Gentry

Most cells in the human body use the sugar called glucose as their major source of energy. Glucose molecules are broken down within cells in order to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules, energy-rich molecules that power numerous cellular processes. Glucose molecules are delivered to cells by the circulating blood and therefore, to ensure a constant supply of glucose to cells, it is essential that blood glucose levels be maintained at relatively constant levels. Level constancy is accomplished primarily through negative feedback systems, which ensure that blood glucose concentration is maintained within the normal range of 70 to 110 milligrams (0.0024 to 0.0038 ounces) of glucose per deciliter (approximately one-fifth of a pint) of blood.

Negative feedback systems are processes that sense changes in the body and activate mechanisms that reverse the changes in order to restore conditions to their normal levels. Negative feedback systems are critically important in homeostasis, the maintenance of relatively constant internal conditions. Disruptions in homeostasis lead to potentially life-threatening situations. The maintenance of relatively constant blood glucose levels is essential for the health of cells and thus the health of the entire body.

Major factors that can increase blood glucose levels include glucose absorption by the small intestine (after ingesting a meal) and the production of new glucose molecules by liver cells. Major factors that can decrease blood

The homeostatic regulation of glucose concentrations.

glucose levels include the transport of glucose into cells (for use as a source of energy or to be stored for future use) and the loss of glucose in urine (an abnormal event that occurs in diabetes mellitus).

Insulin and Glucagon

In a healthy person, blood glucose levels are restored to normal levels primarily through the actions of two pancreatic hormones , namely insulin and glucagon. If blood glucose levels rise (for example, during the fed or absorptive state, when a meal is digested and the nutrient molecules are being absorbed and used), the beta cells of the pancreas respond by secreting insulin. Insulin has several notable effects: (1) it stimulates most body cells to increase their rate of glucose uptake (transport) from the blood; (2) it increases the cellular rate of glucose utilization as an energy source; (3) it accelerates the formation of glycogen from glucose in liver and skeletal muscle cells; and (4) it stimulates fat synthesis (from glucose) in liver cells and adipose (fat) tissue. These effects collectively cause a decrease in blood glucose levels back to normal levels.

If blood glucose levels fall below normal levels (for instance, during the post-absorptive or fasting state, when nutrients from a recently digested meal are no longer circulating in the blood, or during starvation), insulin secretion is inhibited and, at the same time, the alpha cells of the pancreas respond by secreting glucagon, a hormone that has several important effects: (1) it accelerates the breakdown of glycogen to glucose in liver and skeletal muscle cells; (2) it increases the breakdown of fats to fatty acids and glycerol in adipose tissue and, consequently, the release of these substances into the blood (which cells can thus use for energy); and (3) it stimulates liver cells to increase glucose synthesis (from glycerol absorbed from the blood) and glucose release into the blood. These effects collectively cause an increase in blood glucose levels back to normal levels.

In addition to insulin and glucagon, there are several other hormones that can influence blood glucose levels. The most important ones are epinephrine, cortisol, and growth hormone, all of which can increase blood glucose levels.

Diseases and Blood Sugar Regulation

Glucose levels above or below the normal range are indicative of the presence of disease states. For example, elevated glucose levels are present in diabetes mellitus, Cushing's syndrome, liver disease, and hyperthyroidism, while decreased glucose levels are present in Addison's disease, hyperinsulinism, and hypothyroidism.

The most prevalent of these diseases is diabetes mellitus. There are two types of this disease: Type I (insulin-dependent or juvenile-onset) diabetes mellitus, and Type II (noninsulin-dependent or maturity-onset) diabetes mellitus. In Type I diabetes, pancreatic beta cells are destroyed by an erroneous attack by the body's own immune system, and thus insulin secretion is reduced to negligible levels. In Type II diabetes, insulin secretion is not reduced; however, there is a reduced sensitivity of target cells to insulin, a phenomenon known as insulin resistance.


Saladin, Kenneth S. Anatomy & Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function, 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.


English chemist who won the 1964 Nobel Prize in chemistry for describing the structure of vitamin B 12 . In 1969, she completed a thirty-four-year effort to decipher the three-dimensional structure of insulin, the protein that helps people regulate blood sugar levels.

Also read article about Blood Sugar Regulation from Wikipedia

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