Interaction between the different types of cells within the islet of Langerhans is vital for adequate control of insulin release. Once insulin secretion becomes defective, as in type 2 diabetes, the most useful drugs to increase insulin release are sulfonylureas. It is well-known that sulfonylureas block K(ATP) channels, which results in depolarization of the membrane that provokes calcium influx and increases intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i), which thereby triggers insulin secretion. The sulfonamide diazoxide produces the opposite effect: it activates K(ATP) channels, resulting in a decreased insulin secretion. Despite such evidence, little is known about the effect of sulfonylureas and sulfonamides in non-beta-cells of the islet of Langerhans. In this article, we describe the effects of tolbutamide and diazoxide on [Ca2+]i in alpha-, beta-, and delta-cells within intact islets of Langerhans. Tolbutamide elicits an increase in [Ca2+li in beta- and delta-cells, regardless of glucose concentrations. Remarkably, tolbutamide is without effect in alpha-cells. When diazoxide is applied, glucose-induced [Ca2+]i oscillations in beta- and delta-cells are abolished, whereas [Ca2+]i oscillations in alpha-cells remain unaltered. Furthermore, the existence of sulfonylurea receptors is demonstrated in beta-cells but not in alpha-cells by using binding of glybenclamide-4,4-difluoro-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-s-indacene (BODIPY) combined with immunostaining for insulin and glucagon.

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