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Diabetologia. 2012 Sep;55(9):2445-55. doi: 10.1007/s00125-012-2585-2. Epub 2012 May 26.

Predominant role of active versus facilitative glucose transport for glucagon-like peptide-1 secretion.

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  • 1Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Wellcome Trust/MRC Building, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Box 139, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0XY, UK.



Several glucose-sensing pathways have been implicated in glucose-triggered secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) from intestinal L cells. One involves glucose metabolism and closure of ATP-sensitive K(+) channels, and another exploits the electrogenic nature of Na(+)-coupled glucose transporters (SGLTs). This study aimed to elucidate the role of these distinct mechanisms in glucose-stimulated GLP-1 secretion.


Glucose uptake into L cells (either GLUTag cells or cells in primary cultures, using a new transgenic mouse model combining proglucagon promoter-driven Cre recombinase with a ROSA26tdRFP reporter) was monitored with the FLII(12)Pglu-700 μδ6 glucose sensor. Effects of pharmacological and genetic interference with SGLT1 or facilitative glucose transport (GLUT) on intracellular glucose accumulation and metabolism (measured by NAD(P)H autofluorescence), cytosolic Ca(2+) (monitored with Fura2) and GLP-1 secretion (assayed by ELISA) were assessed.


L cell glucose uptake was dominated by GLUT-mediated transport, being abolished by phloretin but not phloridzin. NAD(P)H autofluorescence was glucose dependent and enhanced by a glucokinase activator. In GLUTag cells, but not primary L cells, phloretin partially impaired glucose-dependent secretion, and suppressed an amplifying effect of glucose under depolarising high K(+) conditions. The key importance of SGLT1 in GLUTag and primary cells was evident from the impairment of secretion by phloridzin or Sglt1 knockdown and failure of glucose to trigger cytosolic Ca(2+) elevation in primary L cells from Sglt1 knockout mice.


SGLT1 acts as the luminal glucose sensor in L cells, but intracellular glucose concentrations are largely determined by GLUT activity. Although L cell glucose metabolism depends partially on glucokinase activity, this plays only a minor role in glucose-stimulated GLP-1 secretion.

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