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I heard somewhere that as opposed to other cells, neurons do not use insulin to get their sugar supply.

Why is that?

What is the alternative mechanism? I assume sugar can't just enter the cell without some kind of help from a protein, is that true?

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Insulin is not directly involved in sugar uptake. It accelerates sugar uptake by upregulating glucose transporters and activating glycogenesis.

Neurons have many glucose transporters including GLUT1 and GLUT3 which are responsible for glucose uptake.

Moreover, insulin being an endocrine molecule has effects throughout the body including neurons. So neurons need not secrete insulin.

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    $\begingroup$ It's important to have vital cells not require insulin for glucose uptake. This includes organs such as the brain or cells such as red blood cells. They get glucose by diffusion which only stops if glucose levels get ridiculously low, which is most commonly seen in a diabetic that's taken too much insulin. $\endgroup$ – AndroidPenguin Apr 24 '13 at 20:49

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