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Biochem J. 1988 Jun 15;252(3):701-7.

Polyamines and insulin production in isolated mouse pancreatic islets.

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Department of Medical Cell Biology, Uppsala University, Sweden.


The aim of the present study was to evaluate the role of polyamines in the metabolism and insulin production of pancreatic-islet cells. For this purpose islets were prepared from adult mice and used either immediately or after tissue culture. There was a significant decrease in the islet content of spermidine during culture, although the effect was less pronounced in a high glucose concentration. Furthermore, a stimulatory effect of a high glucose concentration, as compared with low guclose, on the content of spermine was observed. To elucidate further the role of polyamaines in beta-cell physiology, the ornithine decarboxylase inhibitors difuoromethylornithine (DFMO) and methylacetylenic putrescine (MAP) and the S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase inhibitor ethylglyoxal bis(guanylhydrazone) (EGBG) were added to the culture media. Addition of DFMO together with MAP decreased the cellular contents of putrescine and spermidine, whereas the content of sperimine was unaffected. When EGBG was added in combination with DFMO and MAP, there was a decrease in the content of spermine also. Cell viability in the islets depleted of their polyamine contents was not impaired, as assessed by determinations of oxygen-uptake rates and ATP contents. Depletion of putescine plus spermidine by addition of DFMO+MAP was associated with decreased biosynthesis of (pro)insulin and total protein. When the content of spermine was decreased also by the further addition of EGBG, the decrease in (pro) insulin biosynthesis was more pronounced and was paralleled by a decrease in the insulin-mRNA content. Under these conditions, the glucose-stimulated insulin release, the insulin content and the rates of islet DNA synthesis were also decreased. It is concluded that putrescine and spermidine are necessary for the maintenance of normal insulin and protein biosynthesis, whereas spermine may exert a role in some other cellular processes, such as DNA replication, RNA transcription and glucose-stimulated insulin release.

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