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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 320482, 13 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/320482
Review Article

Pancreatic Function, Type 2 Diabetes, and Metabolism in Aging

1Department of Pediatrics, Divisions of Endocrinology and Geriatrics, Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA
2Department of Medicine, Divisions of Endocrinology and Geriatrics, Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461, USA

Received 2 December 2011; Revised 15 February 2012; Accepted 2 March 2012

Academic Editor: Huan Cai

Copyright © 2012 Zhenwei Gong and Radhika H. Muzumdar. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Aging is a risk factor for impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes. Of the reported 25.8 million Americans estimated to have diabetes, 26.9% are over the age of 65. In certain ethnic groups, the proportion is even higher; almost 1 in 3 older Hispanics and African Americans and 3 out of 4 Pima Indian elders have diabetes. As per the NHANES III (Third National Health and Nutrition Examination) survey, the percentage of physician-diagnosed diabetes increased from 3.9% in middle-aged adults (40–49 years) to 13.2% in elderly adults (≥75 years). The higher incidence of diabetes is especially alarming considering that diabetes in itself increases the risk for multiple other age-related diseases such as cancer, stroke, cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In this review, we summarize the current evidence on how aging affects pancreatic β cell function, β cell mass, insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity. We also review the effects of aging on the relationship between insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion. Understanding the mechanisms that lead to impaired glucose homeostasis and T2D in the elderly will lead to development of novel treatments that will prevent or delay diabetes, substantially improve quality of life and ultimately increase overall life span.