There’s a severe health condition that affects around 35 million US citizens and costs the economy approximately $327 billion each year. It’s the seventh leading cause of death and is becoming more widespread. The name of this public health problem? Diabetes.
When someone has diabetes, their body cannot process blood sugar correctly. Without careful management, someone with diabetes has a buildup of sugar in the blood, which increases the risk of dangerous health complications such as stroke and heart disease.
There are different types of diabetes. How someone manages the condition depends on which type they have. Some diabetes occurs because the individual is overweight and has an inactive lifestyle. Other forms of diabetes are present from birth or childhood.
Diabetes is a complicated and multifaceted condition, especially concerning the link with Ca2+ATPase (Calcium ATPase). First, an overview of diabetes.
Types of diabetes
To explain, diabetes is the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar levels, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels, termed hyperglycemia. It’s this hyperglycemia that causes all diabetes-associated health problems.
When a non-diabetic person eats a meal, their blood sugar rises. The more carbohydrates consumed the higher the blood sugar level. In response to this increase in blood sugar, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin.
Insulin transports glucose out of the blood and into cells and other parts of the body, either for instant energy or storage. This action brings the blood glucose level back to a normal range.
If someone has diabetes, their pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to transport sugar from the blood, or the cells no longer respond to the insulin. This leads to hyperglycemia.
Doctors currently recognize two major types of diabetes, which are type 1 and type 2. Less typical types of diabetes include gestational, monogenic, and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes
Doctors also call type 1 diabetes ‘juvenile diabetes’ because they usually diagnose it in children and young adults. If the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, type 1 diabetes develops.
Researchers are still unsure as to why some individuals develop type 1 diabetes. There is a confirmed autoimmune factor, whereby the body attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, called beta cells.
If someone is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, they have an absolute need for supplemental insulin to replace the insulin they cannot make themselves. Without it, they will die.
Type 2 diabetes
This type of diabetes is frequently diagnosed in adults and therefore has the name adult-onset diabetes.
People with type 2 diabetes may have normal insulin levels that correctly control their blood sugar levels. However, various cells in the muscle, fat, liver, or elsewhere stop responding to the insulin. Doctors term this insulin resistance.
If someone is insulin resistant, their body doesn’t transport out of the blood into the cells, leading to high blood sugar. The pancreas responds to this high blood sugar or hyperglycemia by producing more insulin. Type 2 diabetes develops over time, meaning that the insulin does not function effectively to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and the pancreatic cells become damaged.
You may be wondering what the link is between diabetes and Ca2+ATPase. The answer is complex but fascinating and Ca2+ATPase research continues. In this blog post, I’ll explain the first of the three connections between Ca2+ATPase and diabetes.
The Connection Between Ca2+ ATPase and Pancreatic Beta Cells
The organ that produces the hormone insulin is called the pancreas. Within the pancreas, special cells called beta cells produce, store, and release insulin. When you eat, your blood sugar rises, triggering the beta cells to secrete insulin from their stores. The beta cells also produce replacement insulin, which they store for future use.
Ca2+ATPase is essential in this process because the increase of intracellular calcium within a beta cell triggers a response. In this case, the insulin storage vesicles or components in the beta cell fuse with the cell surface membrane and release insulin into the bloodstream, so it can begin to transport sugar to the cells.
The Ca2+ATPase then returns intracellular calcium to resting levels by pumping calcium into the endoplasmic reticulum for storage, ready for the next stimulus.
Ca2+ATPase reduces intracellular calcium to resting levels to keep the cell healthy by preventing calcium overload, and it refills the endoplasmic reticulum stores with calcium.
This is important because If there isn’t enough calcium in the endoplasmic reticulum stores, a condition called endoplasmic reticulum stress arises. This harms insulin production as the beta-cell may produce immature insulin that shouldn’t yet be released and can be defective.
It can also trigger stress hormones, leading to beta cell death. Researchers who have used mice in studies have shown that reduced Ca2+ATPase levels mean that the mice cannot respond to a glucose challenge test and control their blood sugar levels.
Low Ca2+ ATPase Levels Drive Diabetes and More
Without sufficient Ca2+ATPase, the beta cells cannot do their job correctly. High blood sugar and Ca2+ATPase go hand in hand. In our next blog post, we will explore how high blood sugar, in turn, lowers Ca2+ATPase.