Voltage-operated calcium channel heterogeneity in pancreatic beta cells: physiopathological implications

J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2003 Dec;35(6):687-96. doi: 10.1023/b:jobb.0000008032.49504.48.


Voltage-operated calcium channels play crucial roles in stimulus-secretion coupling in pancreatic beta cells. A growing body of evidence indicates that these channels in beta cells are heterogeneous. In particular, not all the high-threshold calcium channels expressed belong to the best known L-type. In rat insulinoma cells, for example, L, N, and P/Q-type channels are present, while in human beta cells L-type and P/Q-type dominate. Where present, N-type and P/Q-type channels participate, alongside with the dominant L-type, in the control of sugar- or depolarization-induced hormone release. Distinct biophysical properties and selective modulation of the channel subtypes are likely to play important physiological roles. T-type channels are involved in beta cell apoptosis, while calcium channel autoantibodies recognizing high-threshold channels in beta cells, have been described both in neurological and diabetic patients. Subtype-selective calcium channel drugs have the potential for being beneficial in beta cell pathological states.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / chemistry
  • Calcium Channels / classification*
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Calcium Channels
  • Insulin
  • Glucose