Islet α-cells do not influence insulin secretion from β-cells through cell–cell contact

Helen Brereton; Melanie Carvell; Shanta Persaud; Peter Jones
February 2007
Endocrine (1355008X);Feb2007, Vol. 31 Issue 1, p61
Academic Journal
Interactions between the endocrine cells in islets of Langerhans influence their secretory function, and disruption of islet structure results in impaired insulin secretory responses to both nutrient and non-nutrient stimuli. We have previously demonstrated that insulin-secreting MIN6 cells show enhanced secretory responses when grown as islet-like structures (pseudoislets) suggesting that homotypic cell–cell interactions between β-cells are important for normal function. We have now extended this experimental model to study the role of heterotypic interactions between insulin-expressing and glucagon-expressing cells by measuring the organization and secretory function of pseudoislets formed from MIN6 and αTC1 cells. The direct α-cell to β-cell contact in the heterogenous MIN6/αTC1 pseudoislets was sufficient to enable the formation of anatomically correct islet-like structures, with a central core of MIN6 cells surrounded by a periphery of αTC1 cells. However, the presence of αTC1 cells had no detectable effect on insulin secretory responses to nutrient or non-nutrient stimuli. In contrast, exogenous glucagon enhanced insulin secretion, in accordance with a paracrine role for α-cell-derived glucagon in the regulation of insulin secretion rather than direct, contact-mediated effects of α-cells on neighbouring β-cells.


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