Dopaminergic agonism effectively treats dysglycemia, with dopaminergic agonist bromocriptine approved as a type 2 diabetes therapy. Though bromocriptine’s actions have been mainly attributed to stimulation of dopamine D2 receptors (D2R) in the brain, we previously showed that bromocriptine also targets metabolically-relevant peripheral tissues including the endocrine pancreas. Here, we employ bromocriptine as a tool to elucidate roles of dopaminergic and adrenergic signaling in regulation of pancreatic hormone secretion. Using bromocriptine, we demonstrate a new mechanism for metabolic actions in pancreatic α-cells and β-cells via D2R and adrenergic α2A receptor (α2A-AR) signaling. In β-cells, bromocriptine acts jointly on D2R and α2A-AR to reduce glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) , while in α-cells, bromocriptine acts via D2R to reduce glucagon secretion. Bromocriptine reduces cAMP in β-cells via concurrent actions on D2R and α2A-AR, further emphasizing shared roles of adrenergic and dopaminergic receptor agonism in GSIS regulation. At the receptor level, α2A-AR activation by bromocriptine leads to receptor recruitment of an ensemble of G proteins driven mainly via G protein signaling with no β-arrestin2 recruitment. In contrast, D2R recruits both G proteins and β-arrestin2 upon bromocriptine stimulation, demonstrating signaling unique to each receptor. Docking studies also reveal that bromocriptine binding to α2A-AR is distinct from bromocriptine-bound D2R, providing a structural basis for bromocriptine’s dual actions on β-cell α2A-AR and D2R. Together, joint dopaminergic and adrenergic receptor actions on α-cell and β-cell hormone release provide a new therapeutic mechanism to improve dysglycemia in diabetes.


S. Bertera: None. L. Friggeri: None. R. Logan: None. R. Free: None. R. Bottino: Employee; Imagine Pharma.


Department of Defense (PR141292) , National Institutes of Health (R01DK124219, R01DK097160, RDA046138) , the John F. and Nancy A. Emmerling Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, Intramural Research Program of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (ZIA-NS002263) , Veterans Affairs VA-ORD-BLR&D (I01BX002678) , the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB1423, project number 421152132) .

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