The sympathetic nervous system is believed to play a part in the control of insulin release from the pancreatic islets of Langerhans. Stimulation of α-adrenoceptors is thought to inhibit the release of insulin whereas stimulation of β-adrenoceptors enhances insulin release. The present experiments were conducted to establish the existence of β-adrenergic receptors on guinea-pig and rat islet cells and to quantify them using the selective β-adrenergic ligands [3H]dihydroalprenolol (DHA) and [125I]cyanoiodopindolol (CYP).
Guinea-pig islets had 62 fmol β-adrenoceptors/mg protein using [3H]DHA, corresponding to 43 700 binding sites/cell and 25 fmol β-adrenoceptors/mg protein using [125I]CYP, corresponding to 17 400 sites/cell. Rat islet cells were found to have 4·6 fmol β-adrenoceptors/mg protein using [125I]CYP, corresponding to 7200 sites/cell. Adenylate cyclase activation exhibited a positive dose–response relationship when exposed to the β-adrenoceptor agonist isoprenaline, with a maximum response (190 ± 21% above basal) at 10 μmol isoprenaline/l. This response was abolished with 1 μmol/l of the β-adrenergic antagonist 1-alprenolol. Insulin secretion in the presence of 10 mmol glucose/l, but in the absence of the α-adrenoceptor blocker phentolamine, was not affected by 10 μmol isoprenaline/l. However, perifusion experiments showed that secretion of insulin from isolated rat islets in the presence of 10 mmol glucose/l was significantly increased (332%) by 10 μmol isoprenaline/l in the presence of 10 μmol phentolamine/l.
These results suggest that binding of selective radio-labelled ligands occurs to β-adrenergic receptors on the B cell surface of the islets of Langerhans, and that these receptors are functionally coupled to insulin secretion through modulation of adenylate cyclase activity.
J. Endocr. (1986) 111, 263–270