Expression of the gene for a membrane-bound fatty acid receptor in the pancreas and islet cell tumours in humans: evidence for GPR40 expression in pancreatic beta cells and implications for insulin secretion

Diabetologia. 2006 May;49(5):962-8. doi: 10.1007/s00125-006-0193-8. Epub 2006 Mar 9.


Aims/hypothesis: G protein-coupled receptor 40 (GPR40) is abundantly expressed in pancreatic beta cells in rodents, where it facilitates glucose-induced insulin secretion in response to mid- to long-chain fatty acids in vitro. However, GPR40 gene expression in humans has not been fully investigated, and little is known about the physiological and pathophysiological roles of GPR40 in humans. The aim of this study, therefore, was to examine GPR40 expression and its clinical implications in humans.

Methods: GPR40 mRNA expression in the human pancreas, pancreatic islets and islet cell tumours was analysed using TaqMan PCR.

Results: GPR40 mRNA was detected in all human pancreases collected intraoperatively. It was enriched approximately 20-fold in isolated islets freshly prepared from the pancreases of the same individuals. The estimated mRNA copy number for the GPR40 gene in pancreatic islets was comparable to those for genes encoding sulfonylurea receptor 1, glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor and somatostatin receptors, all of which are known to be expressed abundantly in the human pancreatic islet. A large amount of GPR40 mRNA was detected in insulinoma tissues, whereas mRNA expression was undetectable in glucagonoma or gastrinoma. The GPR40 mRNA level in the pancreas correlated with the insulinogenic index, which reflects beta cell function (r=0.82, p=0.044), but not with glucose levels during the OGTT, the insulin area under the OGTT curve or the index for the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR).

Conclusions/interpretation: The present study provides evidence for GPR40 gene expression in pancreatic beta cells and implicates GPR40 in insulin secretion in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulinoma / genetics*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology


  • FFAR1 protein, human
  • Insulin
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled