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J Cell Mol Med. 2018 Apr;22(4):2337-2345. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.13523. Epub 2018 Feb 12.

Blockade of cannabinoid 1 receptor improves glucose responsiveness in pancreatic beta cells.

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Department of Molecular Science and Technology, Ajou University, Suwon, South Korea.
School of Life Science, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Ulsan, South Korea.
Center for Genomic Integrity, Institute for Basic Science, Ulsan, South Korea.
Department of Pharmacology, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, South Korea.
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ajou University Graduate School of Medicine, Suwon, South Korea.
Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Islet Cell and Regenerative Biology, Joslin Diabetes Center and Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Boston, MA, USA.
Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Cannabinoid 1 receptors (CB1Rs) are expressed in peripheral tissues, including islets of Langerhans, where their function(s) is under scrutiny. Using mouse β-cell lines, human islets and CB1R-null (CB1R-/- ) mice, we have now investigated the role of CB1Rs in modulating β-cell function and glucose responsiveness. Synthetic CB1R agonists diminished GLP-1-mediated cAMP accumulation and insulin secretion as well as glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in mouse β-cell lines and human islets. In addition, silencing CB1R in mouse β cells resulted in an increased expression of pro-insulin, glucokinase (GCK) and glucose transporter 2 (GLUT2), but this increase was lost in β cells lacking insulin receptor. Furthermore, CB1R-/- mice had increased pro-insulin, GCK and GLUT2 expression in β cells. Our results suggest that CB1R signalling in pancreatic islets may be harnessed to improve β-cell glucose responsiveness and preserve their function. Thus, our findings further support that blocking peripheral CB1Rs would be beneficial to β-cell function in type 2 diabetes.


cannabinoid 1 receptor; glucokinase; glucose transporter 2; insulin secretion; β-cell function

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