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Diabetologia. 2010 Dec;53(12):2641-5. doi: 10.1007/s00125-010-1901-y. Epub 2010 Sep 14.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptors are not overexpressed in pancreatic islets from patients with severe hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia following gastric bypass.

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  • 1Division of Cell Biology and Experimental Cancer Research, Institute of Pathology, University of Berne, PO Box 62, Murtenstrasse 31, CH-3010 Berne, Switzerland.



Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptors are highly overexpressed in benign insulinomas, permitting in vivo tumour visualisation with GLP-1 receptor scanning. The present study sought to evaluate the GLP-1 receptor status in vitro in other pancreatic disorders leading to hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia, specifically after gastric bypass surgery.


Fresh frozen pancreatic tissue samples (n=7) from six gastric bypass surgery patients suffering from hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia were evaluated for GLP-1 receptor content using in vitro receptor autoradiography, and compared with normal pancreas and with pancreatic insulinoma tissues.


GLP-1 receptor analysis of the pancreatic tissues, which histopathologically were compatible with nesidioblastosis and originated from post-bypass hypoglycaemic patients, revealed a mean density value of GLP-1 receptors in the islets of 1,483 ± 183 dpm/mg tissue. Pharmacological characterisation indicated the presence of specific GLP-1 receptors. The density of islet GLP-1 receptor in post-gastric bypass patients did not differ from that of normal pancreas (1,563 ± 104 dpm/mg tissue, n = 10). Receptor density in pancreatic acini was low in post-bypass and control conditions. In contrast, benign insulinomas showed a high density of GLP-1 receptors, with a mean value of 8,302 ± 1,073 dpm/mg tissue (n = 6).


In contrast to insulinoma, hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia after gastric bypass surgery is not accompanied by overexpression of GLP-1 receptor in individual islets. Thus, patients with post-gastric bypass hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia are not candidates for GLP-1 receptor imaging in vivo using radiolabelled exendin. These GLP-1 receptor data support the notion that the islet pathobiology of post-gastric bypass hypoglycaemia is distinctly different from that of benign insulinomas.

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