Costus pictus extracts stimulate insulin secretion from mouse and human islets of Langerhans in vitro

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2010;26(6):1051-8. doi: 10.1159/000324007. Epub 2011 Jan 4.


Plant-derived extracts have been used as folk remedies for Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) for many centuries, and offer the potential of cheap and readily available alternatives to conventional pharmaceuticals in developing countries. Extracts of Costus pictus (CP), a plant belonging to the Costaceae family, are reported to have antidiabetic activity in vivo. The exact molecular mode of action(s) of CP is unclear but the antihyperglycemic effect seen in animal studies was associated with dramatic increases in insulin secretion so in our study we have measured the effect of aqueous CP extract on insulin secretion in vitro from the MIN6 β-cell line and isolated mouse and human islets. Our data demonstrate that CP has a direct stimulatory effect on insulin secretion at basal but not stimulatory glucose concentrations which was not associated with compromised membrane integrity or decrease β-cell viability. Single cell calcium microfluorimetry measurements showed that CP caused elevations in β-cell intracellular Ca(2+) concentrations ([Ca(2+)](i)), an effect which was completely abolished by the removal of extracellular Ca(2+) or blockade of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels (VGCC). These in vitro observations suggest that one mode of action of CP is through stimulating insulin secretion which may be mediated, in part, by the ability of CP to increase [Ca(2+)](i) levels through VGCC. CP extracts may provide an affordable and inexpensive alternative for treating patients with T2DM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels / chemistry*
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Costus / chemistry*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels
  • Insulin
  • Plant Extracts
  • Calcium