«Insulin (from Latininsula, island) is a peptide hormone produced by beta cell of the pancreatic islets; it is considered to be the main anabolic hormone of the body. It regulates the metabolism of carbohydrate, fat and protein by promoting the absorption of carbohydrate, especially glucose from the blood into liver, fat and skeletal muscle cell. In these tissues the absorbed glucose is converted into either glycogen via glycogenesis or fat (triglyceride) via lipogenesis, or, in the case of the liver, into both.Glucose production and secretion by the liver is strongly inhibited by high concentration of insulin in the blood. Circulating insulin also affects the synthesis of proteins in a wide variety of tissues. It is therefore an anabolic hormone, promoting the conversion of small molecules in the blood into large molecules inside the cell. Low insulin levels in the blood have the opposite effect by promoting widespread catabolism, especially of reserve body fat.
Beta cell are sensitive to glucose concentration, also known as blood sugar levels. When the glucose level is high, the beta cell secrete insulin into the blood; when glucose levels are low, secretion of insulin is inhibited. Their neighboring alpha cell, by taking their cues from the beta cell, secrete glucagon into the blood in the opposite manner: increased secretion when blood glucose is low, and decreased secretion when glucose concentration are high.Glucagon, through stimulating the liver to release glucose by glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis, has the opposite effect of insulin. The secretion of insulin and glucagon into the blood in response to the blood glucose concentration is the primary mechanism of glucose homeostasis.
If beta cell are destroyed by an autoimmune reaction, insulin can no longer be synthesized or be secreted into the blood. This results in type 1 diabetes mellitus, which is characterized by abnormally high blood glucose concentration, and generalized body wasting. In type 2 diabetes mellitus the destruction of beta cell is less pronounced than in type 1 diabetes, and is not due to an autoimmune process. Instead there is an accumulation of amyloid in the pancreatic islets, which likely disrupts their anatomy and physiology. The pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes is not well understood but patients exhibit a reduced population of islet beta-cell, reduced secretory function of islet beta-cell that survive, and peripheral tissue insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high rates of glucagon secretion into the blood which are unaffected by, and unresponsive to the concentration of glucose in the blood. Insulin is still secreted into the blood in response to the blood glucose. As a result, the insulin levels, even when the blood sugar level is normal, are much higher than they are in healthy persons.
The human insulin protein is composed of 51 amino acids, and has a molecular mass of 5808 Da. It is a dimer of an A-chain and a B-chain, which are linked together by disulfide bonds. Insulin's structure varies slightly between species of animals. Insulin from animal sources differs somewhat in effectiveness (in carbohydrate metabolism effects) from human insulin because of these variations. Porcine insulin is especially close to the human version, and was widely used to treat type 1 diabetics before human insulin could be produced in large quantities by recombinant DNA technologies.
The crystal structure of insulin in the solid state was determined by Dorothy Hodgkin. It is on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system.» (wikipedia)