The islet beta-cell

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2004 Mar;36(3):365-71. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2003.08.010.


The beta-cell is one of four major types of cells present in the islets of Langerhans, which are islands of cells distributed throughout the endocrine pancreas in most mammals. The beta-cell synthesizes and secretes the hormone insulin mainly in response to glucose but also in response to several nutrients, hormones and nervous stimuli. In adult rodents the beta-cell has a slow mitotic rate. Recent studies provide novel insights into the functions of the beta-cell. The presence of functional insulin-like growth factor-1 and insulin receptors and components of their signaling pathway indicate an important role for insulin/IGF-1 signaling in the regulation of beta-cell function. Further, the recent discovery of glucokinase (GK) and the ATP-dependent potassium channels on insulin secretory granules, the detection of AMP-protein kinase in the beta-cell and the identification of a new beta-cell transcription factor, mMafA, are some exciting new areas of research currently underway to further understand the complex pathways that regulate the functions of beta-cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Insulin / biosynthesis
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans* / cytology
  • Islets of Langerhans* / physiology
  • Islets of Langerhans* / ultrastructure
  • Mice


  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Glucose