Islet-cell-to-cell communication as basis for normal insulin secretion

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2007 Nov;9 Suppl 2:118-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2007.00780.x.


The emergence of pancreatic islets has necessitated the development of a signalling system for the intra- and inter-islet coordination of beta cells. With evolution, this system has evolved into a complex regulatory network of partially cross-talking pathways, whereby individual cells sense the state of activity of their neighbours and, accordingly, regulate their own level of functioning. A consistent feature of this network in vertebrates is the expression of connexin (Cx)-36-made cell-to-cell channels, which cluster at gap junction domains of the cell membrane, and which adjacent beta cells use to share cytoplasmic ions and small metabolites within individual islets. This chapter reviews what is known about Cx36, and the mechanism whereby this beta-cell connexin significantly regulates insulin secretion. It further outlines other less established functions of the protein and evaluates its potential relevance for the development of novel therapeutic approaches to diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Connexins / physiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Gap Junctions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*


  • Connexins
  • Insulin
  • connexin 36
  • Calcium