DR MARK J. WINTER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR MARK J. WINTER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Insulin. Ball and stick model of the molecular structure of insulin. Atoms are colour-coded: carbon (grey), hydrogen (white), oxygen (red), nitrogen (blue) and sulphur (yellow). Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It consists of two peptide chains, A and B, which are linked by disulphide bridges (bonds between 2 sulphur atoms). Insulin is released from the pancreas when blood sugar levels are high, for example after a meal. It instructs liver, muscle and fat cells to absorb the glucose and store it as glycogen (liver and muscle) or fat. Insufficient production of insulin leads to an accumulation of glucose in the blood causing diabetes.
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