Glucose- and Hormone-Induced cAMP Oscillations in α- and β-Cells Within Intact Pancreatic Islets

  1. Anders Tengholm
  1. Department of Medical Cell Biology, Biomedical Centre, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
  1. Corresponding author: Anders Tengholm, anders.tengholm{at}


OBJECTIVE cAMP is a critical messenger for insulin and glucagon secretion from pancreatic β- and α-cells, respectively. Dispersed β-cells show cAMP oscillations, but the signaling kinetics in cells within intact islets of Langerhans is unknown.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS The subplasma-membrane cAMP concentration ([cAMP]pm) was recorded in α- and β-cells in the mantle of intact mouse pancreatic islets using total internal reflection microscopy and a fluorescent translocation biosensor. Cell identification was based on the opposite effects of adrenaline on cAMP in α- and β-cells.

RESULTS In islets exposed to 3 mmol/L glucose, [cAMP]pm was low and stable. Glucagon and glucagon-like peptide-1(7-36)-amide (GLP-1) induced dose-dependent elevation of [cAMP]pm, often with oscillations synchronized among β-cells. Whereas glucagon also induced [cAMP]pm oscillations in most α-cells, <20% of the α-cells responded to GLP-1. Elevation of the glucose concentration to 11–30 mmol/L in the absence of hormones induced slow [cAMP]pm oscillations in both α- and β-cells. These cAMP oscillations were coordinated with those of the cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) in the β-cells but not caused by the changes in [Ca2+]i. The transmembrane adenylyl cyclase (AC) inhibitor 2′5′-dideoxyadenosine suppressed the glucose- and hormone-induced [cAMP]pm elevations, whereas the preferential inhibitors of soluble AC, KH7, and 1,3,5(10)-estratrien-2,3,17-β-triol perturbed cell metabolism and lacked effect, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS Oscillatory [cAMP]pm signaling in secretagogue-stimulated β-cells is maintained within intact islets and depends on transmembrane AC activity. The discovery of glucose- and glucagon-induced [cAMP]pm oscillations in α-cells indicates the involvement of cAMP in the regulation of pulsatile glucagon secretion.

  • Received August 3, 2010.
  • Accepted February 21, 2011.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 60 no. 5 1535-1543
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