Expression of the GLP-1 receptor in mouse, rat, and human pancreas

J Histochem Cytochem. 2008 Sep;56(9):841-51. doi: 10.1369/jhc.2008.951319. Epub 2008 Jun 9.


We studied the intra-islet localization of the glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP-1R) by colocalization studies of the GLP-1R mRNA and protein with islet cell hormones in mice, rats, and humans. In contrast to previous reports, we show that the GLP-1R is selectively located on the beta cells. The localization of GLP-1R in islets and ducts was studied using ISH and double and triple fluorescence microscopy. In normal pancreatic tissue from mice and rats, GLP-1R mRNA was only detectable in the beta cells. Double and triple immunofluorescence using two different GLP-1R antisera and combinations of insulin, glucagon, pancreatic polypeptide, and somatostatin showed that GLP-1R protein is almost exclusively colocalized with insulin. The same pattern was observed in human pancreas, but the GLP-1R expression was more heterogeneous, with populations of insulin immunoreactive cells with high and low expression. This is the first time that the GLP-1R has been localized in human islets. Furthermore, GLP-1R immunoreactivity was found in the pancreatic ducts in mouse, rat, and human pancreas. As an important confirmation of the specificity of our methods, we found no signals for GLP-1R mRNA or protein in pancreatic tissue from gene-targeted GLP-1R-deficient mice. In conclusion, our data suggest that the GLP-1 receptor is restricted to the pancreatic beta cells and the lack of receptor immunoreactivity on delta cells cannot be explained suitably to correspond with published in vivo and in vitro data. This manuscript contains online supplemental material at Please visit this article online to view these materials.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Pancreatic Ducts / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Glucagon / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Glucagon / genetics
  • Species Specificity
  • Tissue Fixation


  • GLP1R protein, human
  • Glp1r protein, mouse
  • Glp1r protein, rat
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Glucagon