Aims/hypothesis: A local angiotensin-generating system has been found in the exocrine pancreas. This study aimed, primarily, to investigate the existence of a local angiotensin-generating system in the pancreatic islets and, secondly, to elucidate its role in regulating insulin secretion.
Methods: Real-time RT-PCR and western blot were used to investigate if angiotensin-generating components are present in the mouse pancreatic islets, which are subject to regulation by islet transplantation. The localisation of AT1-receptors in islets was investigated by immunohistochemistry. Batch-type incubations of isolated islets were applied for studying the influence of angiotensin II on the glucose-stimulated insulin release, glucose oxidation and (pro)insulin, and total protein biosynthesis.
Results: Major components, namely angiotensinogen, ACE, AT1- and AT2-receptors, were expressed in endogenous islets. AT1-receptors were localised to pancreatic beta cells. Exposure of the isolated islets to angiotensin II induced a dose-dependent inhibition of glucose-stimulated insulin release and inhibited (pro)insulin biosynthesis. This inhibitory action was fully preventable by pretreatment of the islets with losartan, an AT1-receptor antagonist. We also investigated if the expression of these components was changed after islet transplantation. Notably, a markedly increased expression of mRNA for the AT1-receptor was observed in islets retrieved from 4-week-old syngeneic islet transplants, a finding that was confirmed at the protein level.
Conclusion/interpretation: These data indicate the existence of an islet angiotensin-generating system of potential importance in the physiological regulation of glucose-induced insulin secretion, thus diabetes mellitus. The increased expression of the AT1-receptor in islet transplants could have relevance to islet-graft function.