PRETTYMOLECULES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PRETTYMOLECULES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Insulin. Computer artwork of a molecule of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It consists of two peptide chains, A and B, linked by disulphide bridges. The atoms of the disulphide bridges are colour-coded: carbon (white), nitrogen (blue), sulphur (yellow) and oxygen (red). Both chains contain areas of alpha helical (coils) structure. 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 and diabetes.
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