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G Dixon, J Nolan, N McClenaghan, PR Flatt, and P Newsholme

Evidence has been published that L -alanine may, under appropriate conditions, promote insulin secretion in normal rodent islets and various beta cell lines. Previous results utilising the clonal beta-cell line BRIN-BD11, demonstrated that alanine dramatically elevated insulin release by a mechanism requiring oxidative metabolism. We demonstrate in this paper that addition ofL -alanine had an insulinotropic effect in dispersed primary islet cells. Addition of D -glucose increasedL -alanine consumption in both BRIN-BD11 cells and primary islet cells.L -glutamine consumption in the BRIN-BD11 cell line and primary rat islets was also determined. The consumption rate was in line with that previously reported for cells of the immune system and other glutamine-utilising cells or tIssues. However,L -alanine consumption was at least an order of magnitude higher thanL -glutamine consumption. The metabolism ofL -alanine in the beta-cell may result in stimulation of insulin secretion via generation of metabolic stimulus secretion coupling factors such asL -glutamate.

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N H McClenaghan, C R Barnett, F P M O'Harte, and P R Flatt

Abstract

The effects of different classes of amino acids known to be transported and utilized by pancreatic B-cells were examined using the novel glucose-responsive pancreatic B-cell line, BRIN-BD11. Amino acids tested included α-aminoisobutyric acid, l-alanine, l-arginine, l-glutamine, glycine, l-leucine, l-lysine, l-proline and l-serine. At non-stimulatory (1·1 mmol/l) glucose, acute incubations with either 1 or 10 mmol/l amino acid evoked 1·3- to 4·7-fold increases of insulin release. Raising glucose to 16·7 mmol/l enhanced the effects of all amino acids except l-glutamine, and increased insulin output at 10 mmol/l compared with 1 mmol/l amino acid. Glyceraldehyde (10 mmol/l) also served to promote 10 mmol/l amino acid-induced insulin secretion with the exceptions of l-arginine, glycine, l-lysine and l-proline. At 16·7 mmol/l glucose, diazoxide (300 μmol/l) significantly decreased the secretory response to all amino acids except l-glutamine. Likewise, verapamil (20 μmol/l) or depletion of extracellular Ca2+ reduced insulin output indicating the importance of Ca2+ influx in the actions of amino acids. These data indicate that BRIN-BD11 cells transport and utilize amino acids, acting in association with glycolysis, K+-ATP channels and/or voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels to promote Ca2+ influx and insulin secretion. The response of BRIN-BD11 cells to glucose and amino acids indicates that this is a useful cell line for future research on the mechanisms of nutrient regulation of insulin secretion.

Journal of Endocrinology (1996) 151, 349–357

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S Patterson, P R Flatt, L Brennan, P Newsholme, and N H McClenaghan

Elevated plasma homocysteine has been reported in individuals with diseases of the metabolic syndrome including vascular disease and insulin resistance. As homocysteine exerts detrimental effects on endothelial and neuronal cells, this study investigated effects of acute homocysteine exposure on β-cell function and insulin secretion using clonal BRIN-BD11 β-cells. Acute insulin release studies in the presence of various test reagents were performed using monolayers of BRIN-BD11 cells and samples assayed by insulin radioimmunoassay. Cellular glucose metabolism was assessed by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis following 60-min exposure of BRIN-BD11 cell monolayers to glucose in either the absence or presence of homocysteine. Homocysteine dose-dependently inhibited insulin release at moderate and stimulatory glucose concentrations. This inhibitory effect was reversible at all but the highest concentration of homocysteine. 13C-glucose NMR demonstrated decreased labelling of glutamate from glucose at positions C2, C3 and C4, indicating that the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle-dependent glucose metabolism was reduced in the presence of homocysteine. Homocysteine also dose-dependently inhibited insulinotropic responses to a range of glucose-dependent secretagogues including nutrients (alanine, arginine, 2-ketoisocaproate), hormones (glucagon-like peptide-1 (7–36)amide, gastric inhibitory polypeptide and cholecystokinin-8), neurotransmitter (carbachol), drug (tolbutamide) as well as a depolarising concentration of KCl or elevated Ca2+. Insulin secretion induced by activation of adenylate cyclase and protein kinase C pathways with forskolin and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate were also inhibited by homocysteine. These effects were not associated with any adverse action on cellular insulin content or cell viability, and there was no increase in apoptosis/necrosis following exposure to homocysteine. These data indicate that homocysteine impairs insulin secretion through alterations in β-cell glucose metabolism and generation of key stimulus-secretion coupling factors. The participation of homocysteine in possible β-cell demise merits further investigation.

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SJ Conroy, I Green, G Dixon, PM Byrne, J Nolan, YH Abdel-Wahab, N McClenaghan, PR Flatt, and P Newsholme

We have previously reported that newly diagnosed Type-1 diabetic patient sera potently suppressed insulin secretion from a clonal rat pancreatic beta-cell line (BRIN BD11) but did not alter cell viability. Here, we report that apoptosis in BRIN BD11 cells incubated in various sera types (fetal calf serum (FCS), normal human serum and Type-1 diabetic patient) was virtually undetectable. Although low levels of necrosis were detected, these were not significantly different between cells incubated in sera from different sources. ATP levels were reduced by approximately 30% while nitrite production increased twofold from BRIN BD11 cells incubated for 24 h in the presence of Type-1 diabetic patient sera compared with normal human sera. Additionally, ATP levels were reduced by approximately 40% and DNA fragmentation increased by more than 20-fold in BRIN BD11 cells incubated in FCS in the presence of a pro-inflammatory cytokine cocktail (interleukin-1beta, tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interferon-gamma), compared with cells incubated in the absence of cytokines. Nitric oxide production from BRIN BD11 cells was markedly increased (up to 10-fold) irrespective of sera type when the cytokine cocktail was included in the incubation medium. Type-1 diabetic patient sera significantly (P<0.001) raised basal levels of intracellular free Ca(2+ )concentration ([Ca(2+)](i)) in BRIN BD11 cells after a 24-h incubation. The alteration in [Ca(2+)](i) concentration was complement dependent, as removal of the early complement components C1q and C3 resulted in a significant reduction (P<0.01) of sera-induced [Ca(2+)](i )changes. We propose that the mechanism of Type-1 diabetic patient sera-induced inhibition of insulin secretion from clonal beta-cells may involve complement-stimulated elevation of [Ca(2+)](i) which attenuates the nutrient-induced insulin secretory process possibly by desensitizing the cell to further changes in Ca(2+).

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S M J Scullion, E Gurgul-Convey, M Elsner, S Lenzen, P R Flatt, and N H McClenaghan

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S M J Scullion, E Gurgul-Convey, M Elsner, S Lenzen, P R Flatt, and N H McClenaghan

Previous studies have shown that homocysteine (HC) has a detrimental impact on insulin secretion and pancreatic beta cell function. The aim of the present study was to determine the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the in vitro toxic effects of HC on insulin secretion and function of BRIN-BD11 insulin-secreting cells. In this study, insulin secretion from BRIN-BD11 cells was determined radioimmunologically, cell viability by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide assay and glucokinase activity by a glucose phosphorylation assay following culture with HC plus alloxan (Alx). Treatment with HC resulted in concentration-dependent inhibition of insulin secretion induced by glucose and other insulinotropic agents. HC in combination with Alx resulted in a more pronounced decline in insulin secretion, including that induced by 20 mM alanine, by 43% (P<0.001) and 30 mM KCl by 60% (P<0.001), compared with control culture. The glucokinase phosphorylating capacity in cells cultured with HC plus Alx was significantly lower, compared with control cells. The cells also displayed a significant 84% (P<0.001) decline in cell viability. Prolonged, 72-h culture of insulin-secreting cells with HC followed by 18-h culture without HC did not result in full restoration of beta cell responses to insulinotropic agents. In vitro oxygen consumption was enhanced by a combination of Alx with HC. The study arrived at the conclusion that HC generates ROS in a redox-cycling reaction with Alx that explains the decline in viability of insulin-secreting cells, leading to reduced glucokinase phosphorylating ability, diminished insulin secretory responsiveness and cell death.

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N H McClenaghan, C R Barnett, F P M O'Harte, S K Swanston-Flatt, E Ah-Sing, and P R Flatt

Abstract

Two hybrid insulin-secreting cell lines (BRIN-BG5 and BRIN-BG7) were established by the novel approach of electrofusing RINm5F cells with New England Deaconess Hospital rat pancreatic islet cells. Cells were selected from the fusion mixture on the basis of insulin output. Wells showing five to ten times greater insulin output than parental RINm5F cells were selected, subcultured and cloned. Clonal BRIN-BG5 and BRIN-G7 cells grow as monolayers with epithelial morphology. The differences in doubling time of 28 and 20 h respectively were associated with morphological differences; the growth pattern and insulin content of each cell line remaining stable for over 50 passages. In acute 20-min tests, both cell lines showed peak secretory responses (1·9- and 1·8-fold respectively) to 8·4 mmol/l glucose. Membrane depolarization with 25 mmol/l K+ evoked 3·7- and 3·9-fold increases in insulin output. l-Alanine (10 mmol/l) also served to promote 2·4- and 1·6-fold increases in insulin release respectively. Increasing the Ca2+ concentration from 1·28 to 7·68 mmol/l potentiated this effect by 1·8- and 1·5-fold. Incubation with forskolin (25 μmol/l) or phorbol-12-myristate 13-acetate (10 nmol/l), in the presence of l-alanine, similarly enhanced the secretory effect on BRIN-BG5 and BRIN-BG7 cells by 1·3- to 2·1-fold and 1·2- to 1·5-fold respectively. The presence of a functional glucose-sensing mechanism in both cell lines was confirmed by the demonstration of the glucose transporter GLUT-2 and measurement of glucokinase activity. These functional properties suggest that insulin-secreting BRIN-BG5 and BRIN-BG7 cells represent two useful glucoseresponsive cell lines for future studies of the function of the pancreatic B-cell.

Journal of Endocrinology (1996) 148, 409–417