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Exploring the Role and Function of the Kidneys

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which the body either cannot produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or cannot properly use the insulin it produces (type 2 diabetes). Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to regulate the absorption of glucose from the bloodstream. In response to insulin, glucose is shifted from the bloodstream into muscle cells, fat cells, or stored in the form of glucagon inside the liver. The glucose is stored in these areas until breakdown is required.  By this process, your blood glucose levels remain balanced. A normal fasting blood glucose level should be between 4.0- 7.0 mmol/L.

In patients with diabetes, the mechanism of insulin-glucose interaction is altered. This could lead to a state of hyperglycemia (blood glucose levels above normal). Overtime hyperglycemia will cause damage to your blood vessels. The changes in the anatomy of the glomerulus begin with thickening of the filtering membrane thereby losing its ability for effective waste removal. Later in the disease process, changes in the structure of the glomerulus also lead to protein leaking into the tubules where urine is being produced. Eventually these changes result in the functional loss of nephrons and kidney failure. Medication or insulin is given to patients with diabetes to control glucose levels in the body.