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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2010 Nov;299(5):G1154-63. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00445.2009. Epub 2010 Aug 26.

CCK-independent mTORC1 activation during dietary protein-induced exocrine pancreas growth.

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Department of 1Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


Dietary protein can stimulate pancreatic growth in the absence of CCK release, but there is little data on the regulation of CCK-independent growth. To identify mechanisms whereby protein stimulates pancreatic growth in the absence of CCK release, C57BL/6 control and CCK-null male mice were fed normal-protein (14% casein) or high-protein (75% casein) chow for 7 days. The weight of the pancreas increased by 32% in C57BL/6 mice and 26% in CCK-null mice fed high-protein chow. Changes in pancreatic weight in control mice were due to both cell hypertrophy and hyperplasia since there was an increase in protein-to-DNA ratio, total DNA content, and DNA synthesis. In CCK-null mice pancreatic growth was almost entirely due to hypertrophy with both protein-to-DNA ratio and cell size increasing without significant increases in DNA content or DNA synthesis. ERK, calcineurin, and mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) are activated in models of CCK-induced growth, but there were no differences in ERK or calcineurin activation between fasted and fed CCK-null mice. In contrast, mTORC1 activation was increased after feeding and the duration of activation was prolonged in mice fed high-protein chow compared with normal-protein chow. Changes in pancreatic weight and RNA content were completely inhibited, and changes in protein content were partially abated, when the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin was administered during high-protein chow feeding. Prolonged mTORC1 activation is thus required for dietary protein-induced pancreatic growth in the absence of CCK.

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