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Curr Diabetes Rev. 2013 Jan 1;9(1):25-53.

Regulation of insulin synthesis and secretion and pancreatic Beta-cell dysfunction in diabetes.

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Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.


Pancreatic β-cell dysfunction plays an important role in the pathogenesis of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Insulin, which is produced in β-cells, is a critical regulator of metabolism. Insulin is synthesized as preproinsulin and processed to proinsulin. Proinsulin is then converted to insulin and C-peptide and stored in secretary granules awaiting release on demand. Insulin synthesis is regulated at both the transcriptional and translational level. The cis-acting sequences within the 5' flanking region and trans-activators including paired box gene 6 (PAX6), pancreatic and duodenal homeobox- 1(PDX-1), MafA, and β-2/Neurogenic differentiation 1 (NeuroD1) regulate insulin transcription, while the stability of preproinsulin mRNA and its untranslated regions control protein translation. Insulin secretion involves a sequence of events in β-cells that lead to fusion of secretory granules with the plasma membrane. Insulin is secreted primarily in response to glucose, while other nutrients such as free fatty acids and amino acids can augment glucose-induced insulin secretion. In addition, various hormones, such as melatonin, estrogen, leptin, growth hormone, and glucagon like peptide-1 also regulate insulin secretion. Thus, the β-cell is a metabolic hub in the body, connecting nutrient metabolism and the endocrine system. Although an increase in intracellular [Ca2+] is the primary insulin secretary signal, cAMP signaling- dependent mechanisms are also critical in the regulation of insulin secretion. This article reviews current knowledge on how β-cells synthesize and secrete insulin. In addition, this review presents evidence that genetic and environmental factors can lead to hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, inflammation, and autoimmunity, resulting in β-cell dysfunction, thereby triggering the pathogenesis of diabetes.

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