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Tripartite cell networks for glucose homeostasis

  • Jo, Junghyo
Publication Date
Jul 09, 2019
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Controlling the excess and shortage of energy is a fundamental task for living organisms. Diabetes is a representative metabolic disease caused by the malfunction of energy homeostasis. The islets of Langerhans in the pancreas release long-range messengers, hormones, into the blood to regulate the homeostasis of the primary energy fuel, glucose. The hormone and glucose levels in the blood show rhythmic oscillations with a characteristic period of 5-10 min, and the functional roles of the oscillations are not clear. Each islet has alpha and beta cells that secrete glucagon and insulin, respectively. These two counter-regulatory hormones appear sufficient to increase and decrease glucose levels. However, pancreatic islets have a third cell type, delta cells, which secrete somatostatin. The three cell populations have a unique spatial organization in islets, and they interact to perturb their hormone secretions. The mini-organs of islets are scattered throughout the exocrine pancreas. Considering that the human pancreas contains approximately a million islets, the coordination of hormone secretion from the multiple sources of islets and cells within the islets should have a significant effect on human physiology. In this review, we introduce the hierarchical organization of tripartite cell networks, and recent biophysical modeling to systematically understand the oscillations and interactions of alpha, beta, and delta cells. Furthermore, we discuss the functional roles and clinical implications of hormonal oscillations and their phase coordination for the diagnosis of type II diabetes. / 1 / N

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