NTU-based researcher zeroes in on cell behind insulin secretion

Professor Per-Olof Berggren
Professor Per-Olof Berggren Karolinska Institutet

The visiting professor at NTU's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine Professor Per-Olog Berggren has found a delta cell that is an effective inhibitor of the insulin-secreting beta-cell and the glucagon-secreting alpha cell. This delta cell can thereby indirectly affect glucose homeostasis in health and disease.

It should be mentioned that glucose homeostasis means the balance of insulin and glucagon to maintain blood glucose.

The senior author of the study, Prof Berggren at Luft Research Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, Karolinska Institutet in Sweden also mentioned that their findings have given important insight into the activity of these cells in health and pre-diabetes and a possible mechanism for how somatostatin can so effectively exert its potent suppressive effects within the islet of Langerhans.

As per the study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, most of these delta cells are extended and have a well-defined microspike or filopodia-like structure.

For this research Prof Berggren and his colleagues by using vivo optogenetics and high-speed Ca2+ imaging, showed that these filopodia are dynamic structures that contain secretory machinery, enabling the delta cell to reach large numbers of beta cells within the islet, which is a portion of tissue structurally distinct from surrounding tissues.

Prof Berggren said, "It has long been a mystery how delta cells so effectively regulate the function of alpha and beta cells, only constituting a minority among the hormone-secreting cells."

"These are fundamental data explaining an important structure/function relationship between delta cells and other hormone-secreting cells, and provides the basis for how delta cells, despite being in minority, can act as efficient modulators of glucose homeostasis."

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