Insulin is considered one of the main anabolic hormones produced in the human body and aids in the regulation of carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. It does this by promoting the absorption of glucose from blood into liver cells, skeletal muscle cells or fat cells. From there, glucose is converted and stored as glycogen or fats. The conversion of small molecules (glucose) to larger molecules (glycogen and fats) is why insulin is considered an anabolic hormone.
Insulin is produced in the pancreatic islet by beta cells. These beta cells are sensitive to high blood glucose concentrations, which causes them to secrete insulin into the blood stream in response to high blood glucose levels and inhibit the secretion of insulin in response to low blood glucose levels. When insulin is secreted by the beta cells, glucose metabolism is increased, causing the blood glucose level to decrease.
Alpha cells are responsible for the opposite metabolic pathway. When blood glucose levels are low, alpha cells release glucagon which stimulates the breakdown (catabolism) of glycogen and fats to increase blood glucose levels.
Decreased insulin activity by the body results in diabetes mellitus. This condition can exist as two types, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is characterized by the destruction of beta cells by an auto immune reaction, thus leading to an absence of insulin production within the body. Type 2 is less understood but is thought to be caused by an accumulation of amyloid in the pancreatic islet, which disrupts the blood glucose pathway within the body. Insulin is still secreted, but glucagon is secreted and unaffected by the blood glucose levels, which leads to an accumulation of glucose in the blood stream.
Solaris Diagnostics analyzes insulin on a using chemiluminescent technology. The turnaround time for this test is typically 24 hours from receipt in the laboratory.