Nutrient regulation of insulin secretion and beta-cell functional integrity

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2010;654:91-114. doi: 10.1007/978-90-481-3271-3_6.


Pancreatic beta-cells are often referred to as "fuel sensors" as they continually monitor and respond to dietary nutrients, under the modulation of additional neurohormonal signals, in order to secrete insulin to best meet the needs of the organism. beta-cell nutrient sensing requires metabolic activation, resulting in production of stimulus-secretion coupling signals that promote insulin biosynthesis and release. The primary stimulus for insulin secretion is glucose, and islet beta-cells are particularly responsive to this important nutrient secretagogue, It is important to consider individual effects of different classes of nutrient or other physiological or pharmacological agents on metabolism and insulin secretion. However, given that beta-cells are continually exposed to a complex milieu of nutrients and other circulating factors, it is important to also acknowledge and examine the interplay between glucose metabolism and that of the two other primary nutrient classes, the amino acids and fatty acids. It is the mixed nutrient sensing and outputs of glucose, amino and fatty acid metabolism that generate the metabolic coupling factors (MCFs) involved in signaling for insulin exocytosis. Primary MCFs in the beta-cell include ATP, NADPH, glutamate, long chain acyl-CoA and diacylglycerol and are discussed in detail in this article.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Exocytosis
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology*
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Signal Transduction
  • Time Factors


  • Amino Acids
  • Fatty Acids
  • Insulin
  • Lipids
  • Protein Kinases
  • Glucose