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Ivan Quesada, Eva Tudurí, Cristina Ripoll and Ángel Nadal

The secretion of glucagon by pancreatic α-cells plays a critical role in the regulation of glycaemia. This hormone counteracts hypoglycaemia and opposes insulin actions by stimulating hepatic glucose synthesis and mobilization, thereby increasing blood glucose concentrations. During the last decade, knowledge of α-cell physiology has greatly improved, especially concerning molecular and cellular mechanisms. In this review, we have addressed recent findings on α-cell physiology and the regulation of ion channels, electrical activity, calcium signals and glucagon release. Our focus in this review has been the multiple control levels that modulate glucagon secretion from glucose and nutrients to paracrine and neural inputs. Additionally, we have described the glucagon actions on glycaemia and energy metabolism, and discussed their involvement in the pathophysiology of diabetes. Finally, some of the present approaches for diabetes therapy related to α-cell function are also discussed in this review. A better understanding of the α-cell physiology is necessary for an integral comprehension of the regulation of glucose homeostasis and the development of diabetes.

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Laura Marroqui, Eva Tudurí, Paloma Alonso-Magdalena, Iván Quesada, Ángel Nadal and Reinaldo Sousa dos Santos

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic, heterogeneous syndrome characterized by insulin resistance and pancreatic β-cell dysfunction or death. Among several environmental factors contributing to type 2 diabetes development, endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been receiving special attention. These chemicals include a wide variety of pollutants, from components of plastic to pesticides, with the ability to modulate endocrine system function. EDCs can affect multiple cellular processes, including some related to energy production and utilization, leading to alterations in energy homeostasis. Mitochondria are primarily implicated in cellular energy conversion, although they also participate in other processes, such as hormone secretion and apoptosis. In fact, mitochondrial dysfunction due to reduced oxidative capacity, impaired lipid oxidation and increased oxidative stress has been linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Herein, we review the main mechanisms whereby metabolism-disrupting chemical (MDC), a subclass of EDCs that disturbs energy homeostasis, cause mitochondrial dysfunction, thus contributing to the establishment of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. We conclude that MDC-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, which is mainly characterized by perturbations in mitochondrial bioenergetics, biogenesis and dynamics, excessive reactive oxygen species production and activation of the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis, seems to be a relevant mechanism linking MDCs to type 2 diabetes development.