In isolated islets, the hydrolysis of membrane phosphoinositides (PI) participates in the transduction of both extracellular and intracellular signals into an effective insulin secretory response. A wide variety of potential second-messenger molecules are generated during the phospholipase C-mediated cleavage of these strategically situated membrane phospholipids. Several distinct but interrelated issues are addressed in this perspective. These include 1) methodological approaches utilized to assess PI turnover, 2) the synergistic relationship between PI-derived second messengers and cAMP, 3) the contribution of changing PI turnover rates to the biphasic pattern of insulin output induced by 20 mM glucose, and 4) the role played by PI turnover in the phenomenon of “memory” displayed by islets after prior stimulation with various agonists. The concept that events unique to PI turnover contribute to β-cell activation is well founded. Because of uncertainty regarding the exact nature of all PI-derived messengers, however, it is not yet possible to mold the available information into a comprehensive theory of β-cell activation. Future studies will have to address various important unresolved issues.

This content is only available via PDF.