Diabetes Obes Metab; auth.: B. Thorens

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2014 Sep;16 Suppl 1:87-95. doi: 10.1111/dom.12346.

Neural regulation of pancreatic islet cell mass and function.


Intracellular glucose signalling pathways control the secretion of glucagon and insulin by pancreatic islet α- and β-cells, respectively. However, glucose also indirectly controls the secretion of these hormones through regulation of the autonomic nervous system that richly innervates this endocrine organ. Both parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems also impact endocrine pancreas postnatal development and plasticity in adult animals. Defects in these autonomic regulations impair β-cell mass expansion during the weaning period and β-cell mass adaptation in adult life. Both branches of the autonomic nervous system also regulate glucagon secretion. In type 2 diabetes, impaired glucose-dependent autonomic activity causes the loss of cephalic and first phases of insulin secretion, and impaired suppression of glucagon secretion in the postabsorptive phase; in diabetic patients treated with insulin, it causes a progressive failure of hypoglycaemia to trigger the secretion of glucagon and other counterregulatory hormones. Therefore, identification of the glucose-sensing cells that control the autonomic innervation of the endocrine pancreatic and insulin and glucagon secretion is an important goal of research. This is required for a better understanding of the physiological control of glucose homeostasis and its deregulation in diabetes. This review will discuss recent advances in this field of investigation.

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Glut2; autonomic nervous system; glucagon; hypoglycaemia; insulin; optogenetics; pancreatic islets