Pancreatic beta-cells release insulin in appropriate amounts in order to keep blood glucose levels within physiological limits. Failure to do so leads to the most common metabolic disorder in man, diabetes mellitus. The glucose-stimulus/insulin-secretion coupling represents a sophisticated interplay between glucose and a variety of modulatory factors. These factors are provided by the blood supply (such as nutrients, vitamins, incretins etc.), the nerval innervations, cell-cell contacts as well as by paracrine and autocrine feedback loops within the pancreatic islet of Langerhans. However, the underlying mechanisms of their action remain poorly understood. In the present mini-review we discuss novel aspects of selective insulin signaling in the beta-cell and novel insights into the role of higher inositol phosphates in insulin secretion. Finally we present a newly developed experimental platform that allows non-invasive and longitudinal in vivo imaging of pancreatic islet/beta-cell biology at single-cell resolution.
2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.