The active role played by beta-cell microfilamentous structures in the dynamics of insulin secretion was investigated by examining the influence of cytochalasin B upon various parameters of hormonal release by the isolated perfused rat pancreas. The view that the cytochalasin-induced changes in insulin release are due to a primary biophysical effect on microfilaments, rather than to an unrelated biochemical alteration of the beta-cell glucose-sensor device, was strengthened by the following observations: (1) the onset and disappearance of the cytochalasin B-induced facilitating action upon insulin release followed a time-course parallel to that characterizing the ultrastructural changes provoked by the drug in the distribution of beta-cell microfilamentous material; and (2) cytochalasin B facilitated leucine-induced insulin release in the presence of a very low glucose concentration. The mold metabolite was also found to transform transient secretory responses into biphasic ones and to prevent the reduction that normally affects the early response to insulinotropic agents when the pancreas is stimulated a few minutes after a prior and short exposure to glucose. The release of insulin evoked by either glucose or gliclazide was abolished in the absence of extracellular calcium, whether in the presence or absence of cytochalasin B. Theophylline and cytochalasin B exerted a synergistic effect upon glucose-induced insulin release. These data support the concept that calcium-dependent contractile events involving cytochalasin B-sensitive microfilamentous structures provide the motive force for both the intracellular translocation and exocytotic release of beta granules.

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