Truncated glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 is a potent incretin. Its synthesis and secretion are modulated by food, but the influence of individual nutrients remains to be established. The hypothesis that protein hydrolysates (peptones) can directly regulate both GLP-1 secretion and proglucagon (PG) gene transcription was tested in this study, ex vivo in the isolated vascularly perfused rat intestine and in vitro in the murine enteroendocrine cell line STC-1. Peptones were albumin egg hydrolysate (AEH) and meat hydrolysate (MH). We demonstrate in these two models that peptones dose-dependently stimulate GLP-1 release, whereas isocaloric quantities of bovine serum albumin or of an amino acid mixture had no stimulatory effect. A strong and rapid increase of PG RNA level was observed in STC-1 cells treated with peptones (14-fold and 7-fold increase after 4 h of incubation with 3% wt/vol MH and AEH, respectively). Peptones also increased the PG RNA level in the colonic PG-expressing cell line GLUTag. In contrast, peptones did not modify the PG RNA level in two pancreatic glucagon-producing cell lines, namely, the RINm5F and INR1G9 cells. The peptone effect in STC-1 cells was completely abolished by blocking transcription before MH treatment. The stability of proglugacon transcripts was not modified by MH treatment, but nascent transcripts were more abundant in STC-1 cells preincubated with MH. Finally, MH treatment strongly stimulated (15-fold stimulation) the transcriptional activity of two PG gene promoter fragments (-1100 and -350 base pair) linked to the CAT reporter gene transiently transfected in STC-1 cells. Overall, peptones evoke an as yet undescribed release of GLP-1 when brought into contact with native intestinal L-cells or with STC-1 enteroendocrine cells. The increased transcription of the glucagon gene in the latter system suggests an important role of protein hydrolysates in the control of not only the secretion but also the synthesis of the incretin hormone.

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