The beta-cells of the islets of Langerhans are embedded in a dense capillary network. The blood vessels supply the islet cells with nutrients and oxygen, and in turn take up the secreted islet hormones to deliver them to target tissues. In addition, vessels provide a basement membrane, which optimizes islet function. In this review we focus on the dynamic interactions between blood vessels and beta-cells, which are pivotal for enhancing insulin expression and beta-cell proliferation in response to increased insulin demand during body growth, pregnancy, and virtually all conditions associated with insulin resistance. Importantly, a failure in this adaptive response might contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
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