A simple and rapid method for identifying and semi-quantifying peptide hormones in isolated pancreatic islets by direct-tissue matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2011 Nov 30;25(22):3387-95. doi: 10.1002/rcm.5239.


We describe a new, simple, robust and efficient method based on direct-tissue matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry that enables consistent semi-quantitation of peptide hormones in isolated pancreatic islets from normal and diabetic rodents. Prominent signals were measured that corresponded to all the main peptide hormones present in islet-endocrine cells: (α-cells) glucagon, glicentin-related polypeptide/GRPP; (β-cells) insulin I, insulin II, C-peptide I, C-peptide II, amylin; (δ-cells) somatostatin-14; and (PP-cells), and pancreatic polypeptide. The signal ratios coincided with known relative hormone abundances. The method demonstrated that severe insulin deficiency is accompanied by elevated levels of all non-β-cell-hormones in diabetic rat islets, consistent with alleviation of paracrine suppression of hormone production by non-β-cells. It was also effective in characterizing hormonal phenotype in hemizygous human-amylin transgenic mice that express human and mouse amylin in approx. equimolar quantities. Finally, the method demonstrated utility in basic peptide-hormone discovery by identifying a prominent new Gcg-gene-derived peptide (theoretical monoisotopic molecular weight 3263.5 Da), closely related to but distinct from GRPP, in diabetic islets. This peptide, whose sequence is HAPQDTEENARSFPASQTEPLEDPNQINE in Rattus norvegicus, could be a peptide hormone whose roles in physiology and metabolic disease warrant further investigation. This method provides a powerful new approach that could provide important new insights into the physiology and regulation of peptide hormones in islets and other endocrine tissues. It has potentially wide-ranging applications that encompass endocrinology, pharmacology, phenotypic analysis in genetic models of metabolic disease, and hormone discovery, and could also effectively limit the numbers of animals required for such studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental
  • Glicentin / analysis
  • Glicentin / chemistry
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide / analysis
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide / chemistry
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide / genetics
  • Islets of Langerhans / chemistry*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Pancreatic Hormones / analysis*
  • Pancreatic Hormones / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / analysis
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein / methods*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods*


  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Pancreatic Hormones
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Glicentin
  • glicentin-related pancreatic peptide