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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2009 May;296(5):F1227-37. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.90351.2008. Epub 2009 Mar 4.

Insulin uptake across the luminal membrane of the rat proximal tubule in vivo and in vitro.

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Institute of Physical Engineering, Brno University of Technology, Brno, Czech Republic.


We visualized insulin uptake in vivo across the apical membrane of the rat proximal tubule (PT) by confocal microscopy; we compared it with in vitro findings in a rat PT cell line (WKPT) using fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Surface tubules were observed in vivo with a 633-nm single laser-illuminated real-time video-rate confocal scanning microscope in upright configuration for optical sectioning below the renal capsule. Fields were selected containing proximal and distal tubules; Cy5-labeled insulin was injected twice (the second time after approximately 140 min) into the right jugular vein, and the fluorescence signal (at 650-670 nm) was recorded. Fluorescence was detected almost immediately at the brush-border membrane (BBM) of PT cells only, moving inside cells within 30-40 min. As a measure of insulin uptake, the ratio of the fluorescence signal after the second injection to the first doubled (ratio: 2.11 +/- 0.26, mean +/- SE, n = 10), indicating a "priming," or stimulating, effect of insulin on its uptake mechanism at the BBM. This effect did not occur after pretreatment with intravenous lysine (ratio: 1.03 +/- 0.07, n = 6; P < 0.01). Cy2- or Cy3-labeled insulin uptake in a PT cell line in vitro was monitored by 488-nm excitation fluorescence microscopy using an inverted microscope. Insulin localized toward the apical membrane of these cells. Semiquantitative analysis of insulin uptake by flow cytometry also demonstrated a priming effect (upregulation) on insulin internalization in the presence of increasing amounts of insulin, as was observed in vivo; moreover, this effect was not seen with, or affected by, the similarly endocytosed ligand beta2-glycoprotein.

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