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Exp Cell Res. 1989 Sep;184(1):72-80.

Homologous but not heterologous contact increases the insulin secretion of individual pancreatic B-cells.

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Institute of Histology and Embryology, University of Geneva Medical School, Switzerland.


To assess whether and how specifically contact influences the functioning of differentiated cells, we have studied the secretion of adult pancreatic B-cells as a function of aggregation to either homologous B-cells or other heterologous endocrine islet cell types, all present in a mixed cell suspension. Using an immunological plaque assay for insulin, we have quantitated the proportion of single and aggregated B-cells inducing the formation of a hemolytic plaque (a reflection of the size of the secreting cell population) and the area of these plaques (a reflection of the hormonal output of individual cells or aggregates) after a 30-min stimulation by 16.7 mM glucose. By taking into account the number of B-cells within the aggregates, we have calculated from these data the insulin output on a per B-cell basis. We show here that the homologous contact between companion B-cells promotes the recruitment of secreting B-cells and increases their individual secretion of insulin twofold over that of single B-cells. By contrast, heterologous B- to non-B-cell contact was not effective in enhancing the recruitment of secreting B-cells and in promoting their individual secretion. These findings show that a highly differentiated cell function, such as insulin secretion, is controlled specifically by homologous cell to cell contacts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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