Brain control of blood glucose levels: implications for the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

Despite a rapidly growing literature, the role played by the brain in both normal glucose homeostasis and in type 2 diabetes pathogenesis remains poorly understood. In this review, we introduce a framework for understanding the brain's essential role in these processes based on evidence that the brain, like the pancreas, is equipped to sense and respond to changes in the circulating glucose level. Further, we review evidence that glucose sensing by the brain plays a fundamental role in establishing the defended level of blood glucose, and that defects in this control system contribute to type 2 diabetes pathogenesis. We also consider the possibility that the close association between obesity and type 2 diabetes arises from a shared defect in the highly integrated neurocircuitry governing energy homeostasis and glucose homeostasis. Thus, whereas obesity is characterised by an increase in the defended level of the body's fuel stores (e.g. adipose mass), type 2 diabetes is characterised by an increase in the defended level of the body's available fuel (e.g. circulating glucose), with the underlying pathogenesis in each case involving impaired sensing of (or responsiveness to) relevant humoral negative feedback signals. This perspective is strengthened by growing preclinical evidence that in type 2 diabetes the defended level of blood glucose can be restored to normal by therapies that restore the brain's ability to properly sense the circulating glucose level. Graphical abstract.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Alonge, KM; D'Alessio, DA; Schwartz, MW

Published Date

  • January 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 64 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 5 - 14

PubMed ID

  • 33043401

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7718404

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1432-0428

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00125-020-05293-3


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Germany