Connexin 36 mediates blood cell flow in mouse pancreatic islets.

Short KW, Head WS, Piston DW
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2014 306 (3): E324-31

PMID: 24326425 · PMCID: PMC3920012 · DOI:10.1152/ajpendo.00523.2013

The insulin-secreting β-cells are contained within islets of Langerhans, which are highly vascularized. Blood cell flow rates through islets are glucose-dependent, even though there are no changes in blood cell flow within in the surrounding exocrine pancreas. This suggests a specific mechanism of glucose-regulated blood flow in the islet. Pancreatic islets respond to elevated glucose with synchronous pulses of electrical activity and insulin secretion across all β-cells in the islet. Connexin 36 (Cx36) gap junctions between islet β-cells mediate this synchronization, which is lost in Cx36 knockout mice (Cx36(-/-)). This leads to glucose intolerance in these mice, despite normal plasma insulin levels and insulin sensitivity. Thus, we sought to investigate whether the glucose-dependent changes in intraislet blood cell flow are also dependent on coordinated pulsatile electrical activity. We visualized and quantified blood cell flow using high-speed in vivo fluorescence imaging of labeled red blood cells and plasma. With the use of a live animal glucose clamp, blood cell flow was measured during either hypoglycemia (∼50 mg/dl) or hyperglycemia (∼300 mg/dl). In contrast to the large glucose-dependent islet blood velocity changes observed in wild-type mice, only minimal differences are observed in both Cx36(+/-) and Cx36(-/-) mice. This observation supports a novel model where intraislet blood cell flow is regulated by the coordinated electrical activity in the islet β-cells. Because Cx36 expression and function is reduced in type 2 diabetes, the resulting defect in intraislet blood cell flow regulation may also play a significant role in diabetic pathology.

MeSH Terms (13)

Animals Blood Glucose Cell Tracking Connexins Erythrocytes Insulin Insulin Secretion Islets of Langerhans Male Mice Mice, Inbred C57BL Mice, Knockout Regional Blood Flow

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