The pancreas is a compound gland, very similar in structure to the salivary glands, which is about 23 cm (7 inches) long, extending from the duodenum to the spleen. The failure of this small gland to produce enough insulin or if the cells do not respond properly to the insulin produced by this small gland , then that condition is diagnosed as diabetes.
Many factors contribute to the development of diabetes in a person such as genetic inheritance, age factor, obesity, sedentary life style etc. Among these factors, the genetic factor or family history plays an undeniable role in developing diabetes in a person. It doesn’t mean that the genetic factor alone determine the onset of this problem. The fact is that people who are genetically prone to diabetes, are born with a predisposition for the diabetes. Apart from that the environmental factors are also needed to trigger the disease. However, the person whose genetic, environment and lifestyle plays a cumulative role in the contribution of the disease, is most likely to end up in the clutches of chronic conditions.
The person who is genetically predisposed for diabetes, is highly vulnerable to the risk factors of the chronic diabetic conditions. People with an affected parent or parents are at 3.5 times greater risk of developing this chronic disease than people from non-diabetes families.
Genetic Factors In Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes can also be called as juvenile-onset diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. This diabetic symptoms usually occurs in children or young adults. People with type 1 affected diabetes have to live with the help of insulin injection daily, without which they could not have control over their blood glucose levels and this may lead to dreadful complications.
Actually, Type 1 diabetes is an auto immune disorder, in which the immune system launches its attack against the body’s tissues and for that matter attacks its pancreatic beta cells. For the children who are genetically susceptible to auto immune type 1 diabetes are likely to develop islet auto antibodies (indicators that appear when insulin producing beta cells in pancreas are damaged) in their early life. In fact, this islet auto immunity is the first sign that occurs very early in their life, which is the indication of the future repercussions.
It is also found that the HLA (Human leukocyte antigen) class 2 region, located on chromosome 6, are involved in type 1 diabetes. These HLA genes contributes nearly 50 percent of the genetic risk of this type 1 diabetes.
However, recent studies have shown that environment (especially viruses and diet) too plays an equal role in triggering this type 1 diabetes that is, genetic-environmental interactions has to be there and certain combinations of genes alone is not sufficient to claim itself to be responsible for causing type 1 diabetes.
Genetic Factors In Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is also called as adult-onset diabetes. Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes do produce insulin, but with some more complications. That is, either their pancreas produce inadequate insulin or their body cells could not use the produced insulin in an efficient manner. Eventually, the body cells cannot get needed glucose.
The gene that is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes is TCF7L2. The effect of this gene mitigates the insulin secretion. However, insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes is mainly due to intra- abdominal fat accumulation which is mainly under genetic control. Moreover, as far as type 2 diabetes is concerned, only diabetic genes are not enough to give this chronic condition on their own. Apart from genetic factors, obesity (central adipose), SEDENTARY LIFE STYLE, POOR PLACENTAL GROWTH, METABOLIC SYNDROME etc, are also held equally responsible for the onset of this diabetes.
Even though, heredity plays an undeniable role in contributing to this problem, the pattern of inheritance is not fully understood in a clear cut manner. Diabetes mellitus cannot be cured in full sense of the term, but it can be effectively controlled, to lead a normal life.