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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Diabetes Channel
Reported December 11, 2012

Nerves Regulate Insulin Secretion


(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Researchers in Sweden have been able to graft beta cells into mice eyes in order to study the living organism over a prolonged period of time.  This gives researchers around the world detailed knowledge of how the autonomic nervous system regulates beta-cell insulin secretion.
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the nervous system beyond conscious control.  It plays an important role in the release of insulin from beta cells in the endocrine part of the pancreas.  The process has remained a mystery because it is difficult to give a detailed study to such an inaccessible organ. 
A recent study used the technique of transplanting beta cells to the chamber of the mouse’s eye that was first developed by Professor Per-Olof Berggren at Karolinska Institute.  The anterior chamber of the eyes’ beta cells receives blood vessels and nerves from our autonomic nervous system.  Now the team from Karolinska Institute and a team from the University of Miami take it a step further by showing for the first time how autonomic nervous system controls the beta cells and influences the regulation of blood glucose in living animals.
They were able to probe the eyes of the mice to study in detail the contact between the beta cells and the nerves.  When the pupil was exposed to light, the blood glucose levels dropped as a result of the stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system (part of the autonomic nervous system).  When the pupil was dilated in darkness, the blood glucose levels rose.  
"We now understand the fundamentals of how insulin secretion works and is affected by the autonomic nervous system.  The next step is to see if it works in the same way in people with diabetes or if there are defects in the signaling relevant to the disease pathogenesis,” Professor Per-Olof Berggren was quoted as saying.
SOURCE:  Karolinska Institute, Sweden, December 2012
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