Deakin University

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Testing the plasticity of insulin secretion and β-cell function in vivo: responses to chronic hyperglycaemia in the sheep

journal contribution
posted on 2012-05-01, 00:00 authored by Kathryn L Gatford, Miles J De Blasio, Tasma A How, M Lyn Harland, Brooke L Summers-Pearce, Julie Owens
Plasticity of insulin secretion is essential to maintain the action of insulin during insulin resistance and to prevent diabetes. Investigation of the plasticity of insulin secretion and its regulation is challenging, and the objective of this study was to develop a novel large-animal-based model. The effect of chronic moderate hyperglycaemia on the plasticity of insulin secretion, β-cell mass and function was determined in sheep. Adolescent sheep (120 days old) were infused with 25% glucose for 16 days to increase blood glucose by 50% (n = 10), and control animals (n = 9) were infused with saline. Glucose- and arginine-stimulated insulin secretion, insulin sensitivity and glucose effectiveness were measured in vivo before and during treatment (days 10-14), and β-cell mass was measured at the end of treatment. Hyperglycaemia increased blood glucose (+53%) and plasma insulin (+403%; each P < 0.003) and did not alter whole-body insulin sensitivity. Hyperglycaemia increased glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (particularly second phase; five-fold) and arginine-stimulated insulin secretion (particularly first phase; four-fold). Hyperglycaemia reduced β-cell mass (∼50%, P = 0.038) and increased glucose- and arginine-stimulated insulin secretion relative to β-cell mass five-fold (P = 0.060) and 20-fold (P = 0.007), respectively. Chronic hyperglycaemia therefore induces marked adaptation and upregulation of glucose- and arginine-stimulated insulin secretion by enhancing β-cell function rather than increasing β-cell mass in the sheep, consistent with long-term adaptations seen in humans. This marked plasticity of insulin secretion in response to moderate hyperglycaemia provides a novel model for the investigation of factors affecting its capacity and underlying determinants.



Experimental physiology






663 - 675


The Physiological Society


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2012, The Physiological Society