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Glucose-sensing neurons regulate blood sugar

Low blood sugar levels, known as hypoglycaemia, can be a life-threatening situation, especially for people with type 1 diabetes who rely on intensive insulin therapy to prevent blood sugar from going too high.

Solutions to this problem may come from a better understanding of the basic mechanisms keeping blood sugar in balance.

US scientists have identified a group of unique glucose-sensing neurons in the brain and how they work together to prevent severe hypoglycaemia in mice.

Dr Yong Xu, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics-Nutrition and Molecular and Cellular Biology, said: “Glucose-sensing neurons sense fluctuations in blood sugar levels and respond by rapidly decreasing or increasing their firing activities. This response can trigger changes in behaviour to increase glucose levels.

“Glucose-sensing neurons also can affect the production of hormones, such as glucagon, that can directly regulate glucose production or uptake by peripheral tissues. It’s a feedback system that keeps the balance of blood glucose.”  

go.nature.com/3fVps6a

 
Picture Credit | iStock

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