Previous work suggested that glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) can acutely regulate insulin secretion in two ways, 1) by acting as an incretin, causing amplification of glucose-induced insulin release when glucose is given orally as opposed to intravenous glucose injection; and 2) by keeping the beta-cell population in a glucose-competent state. The observation that mice with homozygous disruption of the GLP-1 receptor gene are diabetic with a diminished incretin response to glucose underlines the first function in vivo. Isolated islets of Langerhans from GLP-1 receptor -/- mice were studied to assess the second function in vitro. Absence of pancreatic GLP-1 receptor function was observed in GLP-1 receptor -/- mice, as exemplified by loss of [125I]GLP-1 binding to pancreatic islets in situ and by the lack of GLP-1 potentiation of glucose-induced insulin secretion from perifused islets. Acute glucose competence of the beta-cells, assessed by perifusing islets with stepwise increases of the medium glucose concentration, was well preserved in GLP-1 receptor -/- islets in terms of insulin secretion. Furthermore, neither islet nor total pancreatic insulin content was significantly changed in the GLP-1 receptor -/- mice when compared with age-and sex-matched controls. In conclusion, mouse islets exhibit preserved insulin storage capacity and glucose-dependent insulin secretion despite the loss of functional GLP-1 receptors. The results demonstrate that the glucose responsiveness of islet beta-cells is well preserved in the absence of GLP-1 receptor signaling.

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