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Biochem Soc Trans. 2006 Nov;34(Pt 5):774-8.

Nutrient regulation of pancreatic beta-cell function in diabetes: problems and potential solutions.

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  • 1School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK.


Increasing prevalence of obesity combined with longevity will produce an epidemic of Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes in the next 20 years. This disease is associated with defects in insulin secretion, specifically abnormalities of insulin secretory kinetics and pancreatic beta-cell glucose responsiveness. Mechanisms underlying beta-cell dysfunction include glucose toxicity, lipotoxicity and beta-cell hyperactivity. Defects at various sites in beta-cell signal transduction pathways contribute, but no single lesion can account for the common form of Type 2 diabetes. Recent studies highlight diverse beta-cell actions of GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) and GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide). These intestinal hormones target the beta-cell to stimulate glucose-dependent insulin secretion through activation of protein kinase A and associated pathways. Both increase gene expression and proinsulin biosynthesis, protect against apoptosis and stimulate replication/neogenesis of beta-cells. Incretin hormones therefore represent an exciting future multi-action solution to correct beta-cell defect in Type 2 diabetes.

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