Previous in vivo studies have suggested a long-term regulatory role for insulin in the exocrine pancreas. To directly study the long-term effects of insulin on the pancreas in vitro, we have used cultured AR42J cells, a rat cell line that is derived from a transplantable tumor of the acinar pancreas. Hormone-binding experiments with 125I-labeled hormones indicated that AR42J cells have insulin receptors, relatively fewer receptors for insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II), and no detectable receptors for insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I). Insulin at concentrations as low as 1 nM stimulated the growth of these cells, as measured by an increase in DNA and protein content, and in cell number. At 100 nM, where insulin had a maximal effect, the growth of AR42J cells was stimulated by 46.1 ± 10.9% (mean ± SEM, N = 11).Insulin increased the amylase activity of AR42J cells over the same concentration range that it stimulated growth; at 100 nM, insulin increased amylase by 91.0 ± 15.4% (mean ± SEM, N = 23). Immunoprecipitation of [35S]methionine-labeled proteins revealed that insulin induced a selective increase of amylase synthesis over general protein synthesis. These studies indicate, therefore, that insulin stimulates both growth and amylase synthesis of AR42J cells.

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