Glucagon-like peptide-1 regulates proliferation and apoptosis via activation of protein kinase B in pancreatic INS-1 beta cells

Diabetologia. 2004 Mar;47(3):478-487. doi: 10.1007/s00125-004-1327-5. Epub 2004 Feb 5.


Aims/hypothesis: The incretin hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 augments islet cell mass in vivo by increasing proliferation and decreasing apoptosis of the beta cells. However, the signalling pathways that mediate these effects are mostly unknown. Using a clonal rat pancreatic beta cell line (INS-1), we examined the role of protein kinase B in mediating beta-cell growth and survival stimulated by glucagon-like peptide-1.

Methods: Immunoblot analysis was used to detect active (phospho-) and total protein kinase B. Proliferation was assessed using (3)H-thymidine incorporation, while apoptosis was quantitated using 4'-6-diamidino-2-phenylindole staining and APO percentage apoptosis assay. Kinase-dead and wild-type protein kinase B was introduced into cells using adenoviral vectors.

Results: Glucagon-like peptide-1 rapidly activated protein kinase B in INS-1 cells (by 2.7+/-0.7-fold, p<0.05). This effect was completely abrogated by inhibition, with wortmannin, of the upstream activator of protein kinase B, phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase. Glucagon-like peptide-1 also stimulated INS-1 cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner (by 1.8+/-0.5-fold at 10(-7) mol/l, p<0.01), and inhibited staurosporine-induced apoptosis (by 69+/-12%, p<0.05). Both of these effects were also prevented by wortmannin treatment. Ablation of protein kinase B by adenovirus-mediated overexpression of the kinase-dead form of protein kinase Balpha prevented protein kinase B phosphorylation and completely abrogated both cellular proliferation ( p<0.05) and protection from drug-induced cellular death ( p<0.01) induced by glucagon-like peptide-1.

Conclusions/interpretation: These results identify protein kinase B as an essential mediator linking the glucagon-like peptide-1 signal to the intracellular machinery that modulates beta-cell growth and survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Glucagon / pharmacology*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Insulin / analysis
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / cytology*
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects
  • Islets of Langerhans / physiology
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology*
  • Protein Precursors / pharmacology*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Staurosporine / pharmacology


  • Insulin
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Protein Precursors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucagon
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Staurosporine