Study: Pancreas 'clock' Controls Insulin

CHICAGO, June 18 (UPI) — Researchers say they’ve discovered the human pancreas has its own internal clock, and diabetes can result when the clock malfunctions.

A Northwestern University study found the circadian rhythm of insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas, known as beta-cells, regulated the productions of insulin, a university release Friday said.


“This is the first evidence of how the circadian clock may affect the development of diabetes,” said Dr. Joe Bass, associate professor of medicine at the university’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“The biological programs in animals for harvesting energy — much like the photosynthesis of plants — are under control of the clock,” Bass said. “Our findings will help us figure out the causes of glucose abnormalities, but we still have a lot to learn.”

“The variation we see in insulin secretion in humans and susceptibility to diabetes is likely related to this clock mechanism,” Bass, an endocrinologist trained in molecular genetics, said.

The body’s primary clock resides in the brain, the study said, but local biological clocks are found in tissue throughout the body, including the pancreas, lungs, liver, heart and skeletal muscles.

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