Causes of Diabetes
Because insulin is the principal hormone that regulates uptake of glucose into most cells from the blood (primarily muscle and fat cells, but not central nervous system cells), deficiency of insulin or the insensitivity of its receptors plays a central role in all forms of diabetes mellitus.
Much of the carbohydrate in food is converted within a few hours to the monosaccharide glucose, the principal carbohydrate found in blood. Some carbohydrates are not converted. Notable examples include fruit sugar (fructose) that is usable as cellular fuel, but it is not converted to glucose and does not participate in the insulin / glucose metabolic regulatory mechanism; additionally, the carbohydrate cellulose (though it is actually many glucose molecules in long chains) is not converted to glucose, as humans and many animals have no digestive pathway capable of handling cellulose. Insulin is released into the blood by beta cells (β-cells) in the pancreas in response to rising levels of blood glucose (e.g., after a meal). Insulin enables most body cells (about 2/3 is the usual estimate, including muscle cells and adipose tissue) to absorb glucose from the blood for use as fuel, for conversion to other needed molecules, or for storage. Insulin is also the principal control signal for conversion of glucose (the basic sugar used for fuel) to glycogen for internal storage in liver and muscle cells. Reduced glucose levels result both in the reduced release of insulin from the beta cells and in the reverse conversion of glycogen to glucose when glucose levels fall, although only glucose thus recovered by the liver re-enters the bloodstream as muscle cells lack the necessary export mechanism.
Higher insulin levels increase many anabolic ("building up") processes such as cell growth and duplication, protein synthesis, and fat storage. Insulin is the principal signal in converting many of the bidirectional processes of metabolism from a catabolic to an anabolic direction, and vice versa. In particular, it is the trigger for entering or leaving ketosis (ie, the fat burning metabolic phase).
If the amount of insulin available is insufficient, if cells respond poorly to the effects of insulin (insulin insensitivity or resistance), or if the insulin itself is defective, glucose will not be handled properly by body cells (about ⅔ require it) or stored appropriately in the liver and muscles. The net effect is persistent high levels of blood glucose, poor protein synthesis, and other metabolic derangements, such as acidosis.