ATP-sensitive K+ channels (KATP channels) are known to play a key role in the cellular mechanism of insulin secretion from pancreatic β cells. In order to examine the possible impairment of KATP channel function in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), we have studied the properties of the KATP channels in single β cells of neonatally streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats (NSZ rats) using the patch-clamp technique. The unitary conductance of the channel in diabetic β-cells was virtually identical to that in control beta cells and there was no difference in the sensitivity to ATP and glibenclamide of KATP channels between the NIDDM and control groups. In response to glucose, the activity of the KATP channels was diminished in a dose-dependent manner in both control and diabetic cells. However, the inhibition of the KATP channels in β-cells of NSZ rats was significantly < that in control cells. Even in the presence of 11.1 mM glucose, the openings of a few single KATP channels were consistently observed in cell-attached patch membranes of diabetic, but not control, β-cells. Thus, it appears that the impaired insulinotropic action of glucose in β-cells in NSZ rats is associated with a reduced sensitivity of the KATP channel to glucose, but not to ATP, presumably due to a deficiency in glucose metabolism.

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