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Definition of Pancreatic beta cell

Pancreatic beta cell: A type of cell in the pancreas that makes insulin.

The pancreas is a fish-shaped organ that stretches across the back of the abdomen behind the stomach. Within the pancreas there are areas that are called the islets of Langerhans. The beta cells constitute the predominant type of cell in the islets.

The beta cells are particularly important because they make insulin. Degeneration of the beta cells is the main cause of type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus.

Pancreas illustration - Pancreatic beta cell
Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=7261
Last Editorial Review: 8/28/2013

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