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Cell Metab. 2008 Dec;8(6):532-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2008.11.002.

Glucose sensing in L cells: a primary cell study.

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Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, UK.


Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an enteric hormone that stimulates insulin secretion and improves glycaemia in type 2 diabetes. Although GLP-1-based treatments are clinically available, alternative strategies to increase endogenous GLP-1 release from L cells are hampered by our limited physiological understanding of this cell type. By generating transgenic mice with L cell-specific expression of a fluorescent protein, we studied the characteristics of primary L cells by electrophysiology, fluorescence calcium imaging, and expression analysis and show that single L cells are electrically excitable and glucose responsive. Sensitivity to tolbutamide and low-millimolar concentrations of glucose and alpha-methylglucopyranoside, assessed in single L cells and by hormone secretion from primary cultures, suggested that GLP-1 release is regulated by the activity of sodium glucose cotransporter 1 and ATP-sensitive K(+) channels, consistent with their high expression levels in purified L cells by quantitative RT-PCR. These and other pathways identified using this approach will provide exciting opportunities for future physiological and therapeutic exploration.

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