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J Physiol. 1997 Feb 1;498 ( Pt 3):753-61.

Oscillation of gap junction electrical coupling in the mouse pancreatic islets of Langerhans.

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Departamento de FisiologĂ­a, Universidad de Alicante, Spain.


1. Pancreatic beta-cells oscillate synchronously when grouped in islets. Coupling seems essential to maintain this oscillatory behaviour, as isolated cells are unable to oscillate. This allows the islet to be used as a model system for studying the role of coupling in the generation of oscillatory patterns. 2. Pairs of beta-cells were intracellularly recorded in islets. beta-Cells oscillated synchronously. Propagated voltage deflections were observed as a function of glucose concentration and of the distance between the recording electrodes. Space constants were smaller in the silent than in the active phases, suggesting a higher intercellular connection in the active phases. 3. Coupling coefficients and estimated coupling conductances were larger in the active than in the silent phases. 4. Coupling coefficients and coupling conductances changed dynamically and in phase with the membrane potential oscillations, pointing to an active modulation of the gap junctions. 5. We hypothesize a role for coupling in the generation of the oscillatory events, providing different levels of permeability dependent on the state of conductance during the oscillatory phases.

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