Transgenic Expression of Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) and Activated Muscarinic Receptor (M3R) Significantly Improves Pig Islet Secretory Function

Cell Transplant. 2017 May 9;26(5):901-911. doi: 10.3727/096368916X693798. Epub 2016 Nov 22.


Porcine islets show notoriously low insulin secretion levels in response to glucose stimulation. While this is somehow expected in the case of immature islets isolated from fetal and neonatal pigs, disappointingly low secretory responses are frequently reported in studies using in vitro-maturated fetal and neonatal islets and even fully differentiated adult islets. Herein we show that β-cell-specific expression of a modified glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and of a constitutively activated type 3 muscarinic receptor (M3R) efficiently amplifies glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS). Both adult and neonatal isolated pig islets were treated with adenoviral expression vectors carrying sequences encoding for GLP-1 and/or M3R. GSIS from transduced and control islets was evaluated during static incubation and dynamic perifusion assays. While expression of GLP-1 did not affect basal or stimulated insulin secretion, activated M3R produced a twofold increase in both first and second phases of GSIS. Coexpression of GLP-1 and M3R caused an even greater increase in the secretory response, which was amplified fourfold compared to controls. In conclusion, our work highlights pig islet insulin secretion deficiencies and proposes concomitant activation of cAMP-dependent and cholinergic pathways as a solution to ameliorate GSIS from pig islets used for transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / genetics
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / metabolism*
  • Glucokinase / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Islets of Langerhans / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M3 / genetics
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M3 / metabolism*
  • Swine


  • Insulin
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M3
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • Glucokinase