The researchers found that some of the insulin-producing cells also made glucagon, a hormone that is normally made by alpha cells
However, the researchers were missing the second half of the pancreatic equation: cells, like alpha cells
, that sense blood sugar and secrete a hormone to offset insulin's effects.
make glucagon, the hormone that raises blood sugar during fasting.
These findings create a unique platform for new therapeutic options that improve pancreatic islet function, both short and long term, including insulin secretion by the beta cells and glucagon secretion by the alpha cells
While the alpha cells
of the pancreas that produce glucagon are not destroyed in people with type 1 diabetes, the cells no longer release glucagon in response to low blood sugar.
Research suggests that exenatide exerts its effects through the GLP-1 receptor, is much more potent than GLP-1, and has all of the actions of GLP-1 -- stimulating insulin secretion, slowing gastric emptying and inhibiting production of glucagon by the alpha cells
of the pancreas.
They have found that when the gene called Pax4 is forced on in pancreatic alpha cells
, the cells change their identity to become beta cells.
Produced by the alpha cells
in the pancreas, glucagon acts on the liver to help raise blood glucose when it becomes low.