Islets of 5-mo-old obese Zucker rats secreted 50% more somatostatin (SRIF) in response to 8.3 mM or 16.7 mM glucose than did islets from lean controls; the islet SRIF contents of obese and lean rats were similar. As expected, islets of obese rats demonstrated a greater basal and a fivefold greater glucose-induced insulin release and also a twofold greater insulin content than did islets from lean rats. Obese rats were pair fed with lean animals from the age of 9 wk until killed, when 5 mo old. While this curtailed the weight gain of obese rats to that of lean controls, it caused no reduction in the per cent body weight found in the form of lipid. The responses of the pancreatic delta and beta cells to pair feeding were markedly different. Pair feeding caused no alteration in either SRIF content or glucose-induced SRIF release, while the expected reductions in both islet insulin content and glucose-induced insulin secretion were observed.

Islets from older obese Zucker rats (15–18 mo old) had four to five times greater contents of both SRIF and insulin than did islets from age-matched lean controls. The obese rats of this age had a moderate glucose intolerance. SRIF secretion from the islets of such rats was distinctly greater than from those of lean controls at all glucose concentrations tested (range, 1.0–16.7 mM). The delta cells of the older obese rats had lost their sensitivity to glucose, while those of lean controls remained sensitive. Beta cells of islets from both obese and lean 15-mo-old rats remained glucose sensitive. Under all conditions tested, secretion of SRIF and insulin was greater from islets of obese than lean rats.

The results demonstrate a marked difference in pancreatic delta and beta cell responses to pair feeding in the obese Zucker rat. At present, the roleplayed by hypersecretion of pancreatic SRIF in the obesity syndrome of the Zucker rat remains obscure.

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