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Beware of Eyes
medcialonline-Beware of Eyes
A part of the pancreas that produces and secretes insulin - and is therefore essential for maintaining normal blood sugar levels or responsible for diabetes - is largely inaccessible. But now, researchers have found a way to study the insulin-producing cells: by transferring them to the eye.
 
Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden say this technique enables the eye to serve as a sort of window into health reports from the pancreas.
 
Their findings, which could have a major impact on diabetesresearch, are published in the journal PNAS.
 
The Islets of Langerhans are endocrine cells of the pancreas, which means they release insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. After a meal, these cells release insulin into the blood at an amount in direct proportion to the amount of food eaten.
 
However, in cases of obesity, larger amounts of the hormone insulin are needed to make up for the larger amount of food and sensitivity to the hormone.
 
By increasing the number of insulin-producing beta-cells, the Islets of Langerhans try to adapt to this condition, the researchers say - a function important to the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels. When this function breaks down, it can lead to diabetes.
 
The eye 'reports' on the pancreas
Studying the Islets of Langerhans is very difficult, however, because they are deeply embedded in the tissue of the pancreas and they are distributed throughout.
 
But by transferring the Islet cells to the eye, the research team has found a new way to study them.
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