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Increased sensitivity to nerve signals keeps diabetes at bay

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Food intake is known to trigger an increase in parasympathetic nerve impulses involving signals of different origins that are integrated in the brain, the researchers said. In the pancreas, parasympathetic nerve endings release the messenger acetylcholine before and most likely after food is absorbed.

"However, the importance of parasympathetic innervation of pancreatic beta cells in maintaining normal glucose balance had remained controversial," Wess said. "Much of this controversy has arisen because peripheral parasympathetic nerves release at least five different neurotransmitters, and increased parasympathetic outflow affects the function of many organs and tissues that have important metabolic functions."

The researchers overcame those difficulties in the current study by examining the glucose tolerance and insulin release of otherwise normal mice that were deficient for M3 receptors only in pancreatic beta cells, and in mice that contained an increased number of M3 receptors specifically in beta cells.

"We've established an important role for the native M3 receptor in beta cells in maintaining normal insulin release and blood glucose levels," Wess said. "It's also clear from our findings that the parasympathetic nervous system's modulation of blood sugar is not a transient event--its effects on the pancreas are sustained for a long time after a meal."


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Source:Cell Press


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