Autocrine and paracrine insulin signaling may participate in the fine control of insulin secretion. In the present study, tissue distribution and protein amounts of the insulin receptor and its major substrates, insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 and IRS-2, were evaluated in a model of impaired glucose-induced insulin secretion, the protein-deficient rat. Immunoblot and RT-PCR studies showed that the insulin receptor and IRS-2 expression are increased, whilst IRS-1 protein and mRNA contents are decreased in pancreatic islets of protein-deficient rats. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that the insulin receptor and IRS-1 and -2 are present in the great majority of islet cells; however, the greatest staining was localized at the periphery, suggesting a co-localization with non-insulin-secreting cells. Exogenous insulin stimulation of isolated islets promoted higher insulin receptor and IRS-1 and -2 tyrosine phosphorylation in islets from protein-deficient rats, as compared with controls. Moreover, insulin-induced IRS-1- and IRS-2-associated phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity are increased in islets of protein-deficient rats. The reduction of IRS-1 and IRS-2 protein expression in islets isolated from protein-deficient rats by the use of antisense IRS-1 or IRS-2 phosphorthioate-modified oligonucleotides partially restored glucose-induced insulin secretion. Thus, the impairment of insulin cell signaling through members of the IRS family of proteins in isolated rat pancreatic islets improves glucose-induced insulin secretion. The present data reinforced the role of insulin paracrine and autocrine signaling in the control of its own secretion.
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