Oscillatory membrane potential response to glucose in islet beta-cells: a comparison of islet-cell electrical activity in mouse and rat

Endocrinology. 2006 Oct;147(10):4655-63. doi: 10.1210/en.2006-0424. Epub 2006 Jul 20.


In contrast to mouse, rat islet beta-cell membrane potential is reported not to oscillate in response to elevated glucose despite demonstrated oscillations in calcium and insulin secretion. We aim to clarify the electrical activity of rat islet beta-cells and characterize and compare the electrical activity of both alpha- and beta-cells in rat and mouse islets. We recorded electrical activity from alpha- and beta-cells within intact islets from both mouse and rat using the perforated whole-cell patch clamp technique. Fifty-six percent of both mouse and rat beta-cells exhibited an oscillatory response to 11.1 mm glucose. Responses to both 11.1 mm and 2.8 mm glucose were identical in the two species. Rat beta-cells exhibited incremental depolarization in a glucose concentration-dependent manner. We also demonstrated electrical activity in human islets recorded under the same conditions. In both mouse and rat alpha-cells 11 mm glucose caused hyperpolarization of the membrane potential, whereas 2.8 mm glucose produced action potential firing. No species differences were observed in the response of alpha-cells to glucose. This paper is the first to demonstrate and characterize oscillatory membrane potential fluctuations in the presence of elevated glucose in rat islet beta-cells in comparison with mouse. The findings promote the use of rat islets in future electrophysiological studies, enabling consistency between electrophysiological and insulin secretion studies. An inverse response of alpha-cell membrane potential to glucose furthers our understanding of the mechanisms underlying glucose sensitive glucagon secretion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Separation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Glucagon-Secreting Cells / drug effects
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects*
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Species Specificity


  • Insulin
  • Glucose
  • Calcium