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Endocrinology. 2010 Jul;151(7):3074-83. doi: 10.1210/en.2010-0049. Epub 2010 May 19.

Regulation of islet beta-cell pyruvate metabolism: interactions of prolactin, glucose, and dexamethasone.

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  • 1Pediatric Endocrinology, Duke University Medical Center, Box 102820, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Prolactin (PRL) induces beta-cell proliferation and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) and counteracts the effects of glucocorticoids on insulin production. The mechanisms by which PRL up-regulates GSIS are unknown. We used rat islets and insulinoma (INS-1) cells to explore the interactions of PRL, glucose, and dexamethasone (DEX) in the regulation of beta-cell pyruvate carboxylase (PC), pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), and the pyruvate dehydrogenase kinases (PDKs), which catalyze the phosphorylation and inactivation of PDH. PRL increased GSIS by 37% (P < 0.001) in rat islets. Glucose at supraphysiological concentrations (11 mm) increased PC mRNA in islets; in contrast, PRL suppressed PC mRNA levels in islets and INS-1 cells, whereas DEX was without effect. Neither PRL nor DEX altered PC protein or activity levels. In INS-1 cells, PRL increased PDH activity 1.4- to 2-fold (P < 0.05-0.001) at glucose concentrations ranging from 2.5-11 mm. DEX reduced PDH activity; this effect was reversed by PRL. PDK1, -2, -3, and -4 mRNAs were detected in both islets and insulinoma cells, but the latter expressed trivial amounts of PDK4. PRL reduced PDK2 mRNA and protein levels in rat islets and INS-1 cells and PDK4 mRNA in islets; DEX increased PDK2 mRNA in islets and INS-1 cells; this effect was reversed by PRL. Our findings suggest that PRL induction of GSIS is mediated by increases in beta-cell PDH activity; this is facilitated by suppression of PDKs. PRL counteracts the effects of DEX on PDH and PDK expression, suggesting novel roles for the lactogens in the defense against diabetes.

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