Diabetes mellitus and lesser forms of glucose intolerance, particularly impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), can now be found in almost every population in the world and epidemiological evidence suggests that, without effective prevention and control programmes, diabetes will likely continue to increase globally 1 .
Types of diabetes
Diabetes is recognized as a group of heterogeneous disorders with the common elements of hyperglycaemia and glucose intolerance, due to insulin deficiency, impaired effectiveness of insulin action, or both 2 . Diabetes mellitus is classified on the basis of aetiology and clinical presentation of the disorder into four types:
Insulin is the internal secretion of the pancreas formed by groups of cells called the islets of Langerhans in this organ. It is the hormone needed to enable glucose to enter the cells and provide energy. Insulin is also important in keeping blood glucose levels within the acceptable limits.
Insulin is injected into the body by people with type 1 diabetes in whom the cells that produce insulin have been destroyed. This is the most common form of diabetes in children and young adults, and they depend on insulin for survival. Insulin may also be used by people with type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the body needs more insulin than it can produce.
Since the landmark discovery of insulin by Frederick Banting and Charles Best in 1921, huge steps forward have been made in research and development in creating genetically engineered human insulin. Until recently insulin was derived from a limited resource of the pancreas of cattle and pigs.
Impaired glucose tolerance
Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is an asymptomatic condition defined by elevated (though not diabetic) levels of blood glucose two hours after a 75g oral glucose challenge. Along with impaired fasting glucose (IFG), it is now recognized as being a stage in the transition from normality to diabetes.
Thus, individuals with IGT are at high risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes, although such progression is not inevitable, and probably over 30% of individuals with IGT will return to normal glucose tolerance over a period of several years. Not surprisingly, IGT shares many characteristics with type 2 diabetes, being associated with obesity, advancing age, insulin resistance and an insulin secretory defect.
Insulin production and action
1.World Health Organization Prevention of diabetes mellitus. Technical Report Series no. 844.. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1994
2.Harris,MI Zimmet,P. International Textbook of Diabetes Mellitus - Second Edition.In Classification of diabetes mellitus and other categories of glucose intolerance.Chichester, England: John Wiley and Sons Ltd; 1997.p9-23