Mitochondrial function and insulin secretion

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2013 Oct 15;379(1-2):12-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2013.06.019. Epub 2013 Jun 20.


In the endocrine fraction of the pancreas, the β-cell rapidly reacts to fluctuations in blood glucose concentrations by adjusting the rate of insulin secretion. Glucose-sensing coupled to insulin exocytosis depends on transduction of metabolic signals into intracellular messengers recognized by the secretory machinery. Mitochondria play a central role in this process by connecting glucose metabolism to insulin release. Mitochondrial activity is primarily regulated by metabolic fluxes, but also by dynamic morphology changes and free Ca(2+) concentrations. Recent advances of mitochondrial Ca(2+) homeostasis are discussed; in particular the roles of the newly-identified mitochondrial Ca(2+) uniporter MCU and its regulatory partner MICU1, as well as the mitochondrial Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchanger. This review describes how mitochondria function both as sensors and generators of metabolic signals; such as NADPH, long chain acyl-CoA, glutamate. The coupling factors are additive to the Ca(2+) signal and participate to the amplifying pathway of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion.

Keywords: Diabetes; Insulin secretion; Mitochondria; Pancreatic islets; β-cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biotransformation
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Cation Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger / metabolism


  • Calcium Channels
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Cation Transport Proteins
  • Insulin
  • MICU1 protein, human
  • MICU2 protein, human
  • Mitochondrial Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Sodium-Calcium Exchanger
  • Glucose
  • Calcium