Maximal glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was quantified in perfused pancreases of 11-wk-old and 12-mo-old female and male rats. In addition, measurements were made of body weight, total pancreatic weight, and percentage of the pancreas occupied by islet tissue. Body weight (mean ± SE) of male rats was greater than that of female rats at both 11 wk (319 ± 3 vs. 237 ± 13 g) and 12 mo (684 ± 17 vs. 376 ± 13 g) of age. Pancreatic weight and percentage of the pancreas occupied by islet tissue were also greater in male rats and increased in approximate proportion to the gain in weight. The first phase and the second phase of maximal glucosestimulated insulin secretion were both qualitatively and quantitatively similar in all four groups of rats. However, because islet cell mass increased with age, maximal glucose-stimulated insulin secretion declined with age in rats of both sexes when expressed per unit islet tissue. Although the fall in insulin secretion (per islet cell mass) with age was observed in perfused pancreases from both male and female rats, the pancreases of female rats contained relatively less islet tissue and secreted more insulin per unit islet cell mass than pancreases of male rats at either age. Thus, there are sex differences in both islet cell structure and function, but the effect of age on endocrine pancreatic function seems to be independent of sex.

This content is only available via PDF.