The effects of varying concentrations of ethanol (1,10, and 30 mM) and its metabolites (1 mM acetate and 1 and 10 mM acetaldehyde) on insulin and glucagon secretion induced by glucose (11.1 mM) and arginine (20 mM) were studied in isolated perfused pancreas of Sprague-Dawley rats

Ethanol and its metabolites did not significantly modify basal secretion of the two hormones. Ethanol reduced glucose-induced insulin secretion by means of a dose-related effect. Arginine-induced insulin output did not seem to be influenced to any significant degree. Acetate and acetaldehyde significantly inhibited glucose and arginine-induced insulin secretion. While ethanol (10 and 30 mM) did not modify glucagon output during arginine perfusion, acetate and acetaldehyde markedly enhanced it.

The block of insulin secretion and the increased secretion of glucagon could explain the diabetogenic effect of ethanol demonstrated in vivo. The mechanism by which ethanol acts on the pancreatic β- and α-cells is discussed.

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