Minireview: Dopaminergic regulation of insulin secretion from the pancreatic islet

Mol Endocrinol. 2013 Aug;27(8):1198-207. doi: 10.1210/me.2013-1083. Epub 2013 Jun 6.


Exogenous dopamine inhibits insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells, but the lack of dopaminergic neurons in pancreatic islets has led to controversy regarding the importance of this effect. Recent data, however, suggest a plausible physiologic role for dopamine in the regulation of insulin secretion. We review the literature underlying our current understanding of dopaminergic signaling that can down-regulate glucose-stimulated insulin secretion from pancreatic islets. In this negative feedback loop, dopamine is synthesized in the β-cells from circulating L-dopa, serves as an autocrine signal that is cosecreted with insulin, and causes a tonic inhibition on glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. On the whole animal scale, L-dopa is produced by cells in the gastrointestinal tract, and its concentration in the blood plasma increases following a mixed meal. By reviewing the outcome of certain types of bariatric surgery that result in rapid amelioration of glucose tolerance, we hypothesize that dopamine serves as an "antiincretin" signal that counterbalances the stimulatory effect of glucagon-like peptide 1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dopamine / biosynthesis
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / cytology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism*
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Incretins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Levodopa / biosynthesis
  • Levodopa / blood
  • Levodopa / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Incretins
  • Insulin
  • Levodopa
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucose
  • Dopamine