Glucose-induced insulin secretion depends on an acceleration of glucose metabolism, requires a rise in the cytoplasmic free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), and is modulated by activation of protein kinases in beta-cells. Normal mouse islets were used to determine whether oscillations of these three signals are able and necessary to trigger oscillations of insulin secretion. The approach was to minimize or abolish spontaneous oscillations and to compare the impact of forced oscillations of each signal on insulin secretion. In a control medium, repetitive increases in the glucose concentration triggered oscillations in metabolism [NAD(P)H fluorescence], [Ca2+]i (fura-PE3 method), and insulin secretion. In the presence of diazoxide, metabolic oscillations persisted, but [Ca2+]i and insulin oscillations were abolished. When the islets were depolarized with high K+ with or without diazoxide, [Ca2+]i was elevated, and insulin secretion was stimulated. Forced metabolic oscillations transiently decreased or did not affect [Ca2+]i and potentiated insulin secretion with oscillations of small amplitude. These oscillations of secretion followed metabolic oscillations only when [Ca2+]i did not change. When [Ca2+]i fluctuated, these changes prevailed over those of metabolism for timing secretion. Repetitive depolarizations with high K+ in the presence of stable glucose (10 mmol/l) induced synchronous pulses of [Ca2+]i and insulin secretion with only small oscillations of metabolism. Continuous stimulation of protein kinase A (PKA) and protein kinase C (PKC) did not dissociate the [Ca2+]i and insulin pulses from the high K+ pulses. However, the amplitude of the insulin pulses was consistently increased, whereas that of the [Ca2+]i pulses was either increased (PKA) or decreased (PKC). In conclusion, metabolic oscillations can induce oscillations of insulin secretion independently of but with a lesser effectiveness than [Ca2+]i oscillations. Although oscillations in metabolism may cyclically influence secretion through an ATP-sensitive K+ channel (K+-ATP channel)-independent pathway, their regulatory effects are characterized by a hysteresis that makes them unlikely drivers of fast oscillations, unless they also involve [Ca2+]i changes through the K+-ATP channel-dependent pathway.

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