Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) controls glucose homeostasis by regulating secretion of insulin and glucagon through a single GLP-1 receptor (GLP-1R). GLP-1R agonists also increase pancreatic weight in some preclinical studies through poorly understood mechanisms. Here we demonstrate that the increase in pancreatic weight following activation of GLP-1R signaling in mice reflects an increase in acinar cell mass, without changes in ductal compartments or β-cell mass. GLP-1R agonists did not increase pancreatic DNA content or the number of Ki67+ cells in the exocrine compartment, however pancreatic protein content was increased in mice treated with exendin-4 or liraglutide. The increased pancreatic mass and protein content was independent of cholecystokinin receptors, associated with a rapid increase in S6 kinase phosphorylation, and mediated through the GLP-1 receptor. Rapamycin abrogated the GLP-1R-dependent increase in pancreatic mass but had no effect on the robust induction of Reg3α and Reg3β gene expression. Mass spectrometry analysis identified GLP-1R-dependent up-regulation of proteins important for translation, and export, including cytochrome P450, Fam129a, eIF4a1, Wars, and Dmbt1. Hence, pharmacological GLP-1R activation induces protein synthesis leading to increased pancreatic mass independent of changes in DNA content or cell proliferation in mice.
- Received June 5, 2014.
- Accepted September 24, 2014.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.