Glucose-stimulated signaling pathways in biphasic insulin secretion

Diabetes Metab Res Rev. Nov-Dec 2002;18(6):451-63. doi: 10.1002/dmrr.329.


Glucose-stimulated biphasic insulin secretion involves at least two signaling pathways, the KATP channel-dependent and KATP channel-independent pathways, respectively. In the former, enhanced glucose metabolism increases the cellular adenosine triphosphate/adenosine diphosphate (ATP/ADP) ratio, closes KATP channels and depolarizes the cell. Activation of voltage-dependent Ca(2+) channels increases Ca(2+) entry and [Ca(2+)]i and stimulates insulin release. The KATP channel-independent pathways augment the response to increased [Ca(2+)]i by mechanisms that are currently unknown. However, they affect different pools of insulin-containing granules in a highly coordinated manner. The beta-cell granule pools can be minimally described as reserve, morphologically docked, readily and immediately releasable. Activation of the KATP channel-dependent pathway results in exocytosis of an immediately releasable pool that is responsible for the first phase of glucose-stimulated insulin release. Following glucose metabolism, the rate-limiting step for the first phase lies in the rate of signal transduction between sensing the rise in [Ca(2+)]i and exocytosis of the immediately releasable granules. The immediately releasable pool of granules can be enlarged by previous exposure to glucose (by time-dependent potentiation, TDP), and by second messengers such as cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cyclic AMP) and diacylglycerol (DAG). The second phase of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion is due mainly to the KATP channel-independent pathways acting in synergy with the KATP channel-dependent pathway. The rate-limiting step here is the conversion of readily releasable granules to the state of immediate releasability, following which, in an activated cell they will undergo exocytosis. In the rat and human beta-cell the KATP channel-independent pathways induce a time-dependent increase in the rate of this step that results in the typical rising second-phase response. In the mouse beta-cell the rate appears not to be changed much by glucose. Potential intermediates involved in controlling the rate-limiting step include increases in cytosolic long-chain acyl-CoA levels, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and guanosine triphosphate (GTP), DAG binding proteins, including some isoforms of protein kinase (PKC), and protein acyl transferases. Agonists that can change the rate-limiting steps for both phases of insulin release include those like glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) that raise cyclic AMP levels and those like acetylcholine that act via DAG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Exocytosis / physiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Second Messenger Systems / physiology*
  • Secretory Vesicles / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Insulin
  • Potassium Channels
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Glucose