A unifying organ model of pancreatic insulin secretion

De Gaetano, Andrea, Gaz, Claudio, Palumbo, Pasquale and Panunzi, Simona (2015) A unifying organ model of pancreatic insulin secretion. PLoS ONE, 10(11), e0142344. ISSN (online) 1932-6203


The secretion of insulin by the pancreas has been the object of much attention over the past several decades. Insulin is known to be secreted by pancreatic β-cells in response to hyperglycemia: its blood concentrations however exhibit both high-frequency (period approx. 10 minutes) and low-frequency oscillations (period approx. 1.5 hours). Furthermore, characteristic insulin secretory response to challenge maneuvers have been described, such as frequency entrainment upon sinusoidal glycemic stimulation; substantial insulin peaks following minimal glucose administration; progressively strengthened insulin secretion response after repeated administration of the same amount of glucose; insulin and glucose characteristic curves after Intra-Venous administration of glucose boli in healthy and pre-diabetic subjects as well as in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Previous modeling of β-cell physiology has been mainly directed to the intracellular chain of events giving rise to single-cell or cell-cluster hormone release oscillations, but the large size, long period and complex morphology of the diverse responses to whole-body glucose stimuli has not yet been coherently explained. Starting with the seminal work of Grodsky it was hypothesized that the population of pancreatic β-cells, possibly functionally aggregated in islets of Langerhans, could be viewed as a set of independent, similar, but not identical controllers (firing units) with distributed functional parameters. The present work shows how a single model based on a population of independent islet controllers can reproduce very closely a diverse array of actually observed experimental results, with the same set of working parameters. The model’s success in reproducing a diverse array of experiments implies that, in order to understand the macroscopic behaviour of the endocrine pancreas in regulating glycemia, there is no need to hypothesize intrapancreatic pacemakers, influences between different islets of Langerhans, glycolitic-induced oscillations or β-cell sensitivity to the rate of change of glycemia.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page