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Endocrinology. 1989 Oct;125(4):1999-2007.

The desensitization of normal B-cells to glucose in vitro is transient and not related to high glucose levels.

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Laboratoire de Physiologie du Développement et CNRS UA 307, Université Paris 7, France.


To examine the postulated phenomenon of glucotoxicity toward the B-cell, islets isolated from normal adult rats were cultured for 1-6 days in RPMI medium at various glucose concentrations. Insulin release and (pro)insulin biosynthesis by these islets were then measured in short term incubations. The 1-day cultured islets (at 9.7 mM glucose) displayed a deficient glucose-stimulated insulin release which was partially restored in the presence of forskolin (5 microM). By contrast they exhibited a consistent insulin release in response to ketoisocaproate (10 mM), 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (2 microM), or the combination of Ba2+ (2 mM) and theophylline (1.4 mM) in the absence of extracellular Ca2+. Desensitization of their B-cells was not specific for glucose, since glyceraldehyde (10 mM) or leucine (10 mM) also failed to stimulate insulin release. Desensitization was not related to glucose concentration (5.6, 9.7, or 16.7 mM) in the medium during the 1-day culture period and was restricted to the secretory function, with no impairment of the biosynthesis process. The desensitization to glucose was transient, and high glucose levels (9.7 and 16.7 mM) in the culture medium favored restoration of the subsequent secretory response to the hexose. Under conditions of recovery of B-cell sensitivity to glucose in vitro (5 days at 9.7 mM glucose), the secretory response to acute glucose was in fact significantly enhanced after an additional exposure (1 day) to very high glucose levels (22 or 55 mM). The present results argue against 1) the possibility that islets suffer from some unspecific decreased viability after a 1-day culture period; and 2) the hypothesis that glucose insensitivity in the 1-day cultured islets is primarily caused by a direct deleterious effect of high glucose concentrations on the B-cells. They, rather, reinforce the view that high glucose levels are actually crucial in the preservation of the insulin secretory response to glucose of islets maintained in tissue culture.

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