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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Apr;292(4):E1201-6. Epub 2006 Dec 26.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 stimulates GABA formation by pancreatic beta-cells at the level of glutamate decarboxylase.

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Diabetes Research Center, Brussels Free University-VUB, Laarbeeklaan 103, B-1090 Brussels, Belgium.


Pancreatic beta-cells are the major extraneural site of glutamate decarboxylase expression (GAD). During culture of isolated beta-cells, the GAD product gamma-aminobutyrate (GABA) is rapidly released in the medium, independently of insulin. It is considered as a possible mediator of beta-cell influences on alpha-cells, acinar cells, and/or infiltrating lymphocytes. In this perspective, we investigated the regulation of GABA release by rat beta-cells during a 24-h culture period. Glucose was previously reported to inhibit GABA release by diverting cellular GABA to mitochondrial breakdown through activation of GABA transferase (GABA-T). In the present study, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) was shown to stimulate GABA formation at the level of GAD, its effect being suppressed by the GAD inhibitor allylglycine and remaining unaltered by the GABA-T inhibitor gamma-vinyl-GABA. The stimulatory action of GLP-1 is cAMP dependent, being reproduced by the adenylate cyclase activator forskolin and the cAMP analog N(6)-benzoyladenosine-3',5'-cAMP and inhibited by a PKA inhibitor. It is dependent on protein synthesis and associated with an increased expression of GAD67 but not GAD65. The GLP-1-induced stimulation of GAD activity in beta-cells can elevate medium GABA levels in conditions of glucose-driven intracellular GABA breakdown and thus maintain GABA-mediated beta-cell influences on neighboring cells.

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