We have analyzed in organ culture the effects of glucose on glucose-induced insulin secretion, glucokinase (GK) activity, and human growth hormone (hGH) expression in pancreatic islets from transgenic mice containing an upstream GK promoter-hGH fusion gene. Freshly isolated islets from these mice had a normal insulin secretory response to glucose but showed subtle defects after culture in low or high glucose for 4 days that may have been due to the accumulation of hGH in the culture media. Islets cultured from both normal and transgenic mice had approximately a fourfold induction of GK activity in response to an increased concentration of glucose in the culture media, whereas no such change in total islet hGH production was observed. Immunocytochemical localization of hGH in islets cultured in 3 mM glucose showed a pattern similar to that in freshly isolated islets. However, after culture in 30 mM glucose, hGH immunostaining became strikingly more heterogeneous. We conclude 1) that GK-hGH transgene expression does not appear to adversely affect glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in vivo or in freshly isolated islets, 2) that glucose does not induce transgene expression, thus providing additional evidence against an effect of glucose on GK gene transcription in the islet, and 3) that glucose stimulates the co-release of hGH with insulin, thereby enhancing the heterogeneous staining pattern seen among pancreatic β-cells.

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