The pancreatic ß cell response to secretory demands and adaption to stress

Image of the interior of a beta cell

Source: Endocrinology


Pancreatic β cells dedicate much of their protein translation capacity to produce insulin to maintain glucose homeostasis. In response to increased secretory demand, β cells can compensate by increasing insulin production capability even in the face of protracted peripheral insulin resistance. The ability to amplify insulin secretion in response to hyperglycemia is a critical facet of β cell function, and the exact mechanisms by which this occurs have been studied for decades.

To adapt to the constant and fast changing demands for insulin production, β cells utilize the unfolded protein response of the endoplasmic reticulum. Failure of these compensatory mechanisms contributes to both type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Additionally, studies in which β cells are ‘rested’ by reducing endogenous insulin demand have shown promise as a therapeutic strategy that could be applied more broadly.

Here we review recent findings in β cells pertaining to the metabolic amplifying pathway, the unfolded protein response, and potential advances in therapeutics based on β cell rest.

To read the complete research article, go to Endocrinology.