Leucine acutely potentiates glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in fetal sheep

J Endocrinol. 2020 Oct;247(1):115-126. doi: 10.1530/JOE-20-0243.

Abstract

A 9-day infusion of leucine into fetal sheep potentiates fetal glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS). However, there were accompanying pancreatic structural changes that included a larger proportion of β-cells and increased vascularity. Whether leucine can acutely potentiate fetal GSIS in vivo before these structural changes develop is unknown. The mechanisms by which leucine acutely potentiates GSIS in adult islets and insulin-secreting cell lines are well known. These mechanisms involve leucine metabolism, including leucine oxidation. However, it is not clear if leucine-stimulated metabolic pathways are active in fetal islets. We hypothesized that leucine would acutely potentiate GSIS in fetal sheep and that isolated fetal islets are capable of oxidizing leucine. We also hypothesized that leucine would stimulate other metabolic pathways associated with insulin secretion. In pregnant sheep we tested in vivo GSIS with and without an acute leucine infusion. In isolated fetal sheep islets, we measured leucine oxidation with a [1-14C] l-leucine tracer. We also measured concentrations of other amino acids, glucose, and analytes associated with cellular metabolism following incubation of fetal islets with leucine. In vivo, a leucine infusion resulted in glucose-stimulated insulin concentrations that were over 50% higher than controls (P < 0.05). Isolated fetal islets oxidized leucine. Leucine supplementation of isolated fetal islets also resulted in significant activation of metabolic pathways involving leucine and other amino acids. In summary, acute leucine supplementation potentiates fetal GSIS in vivo, likely through pathways related to the oxidation of leucine and catabolism of other amino acids.

Keywords: fetus; insulin; islet; leucine; pancreas; sheep; β-cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • Fetus / drug effects
  • Fetus / metabolism*
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Insulin Secretion / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / embryology
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Leucine / administration & dosage
  • Leucine / pharmacology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Pregnancy
  • Sheep / embryology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology

Substances

  • Amino Acids
  • Leucine
  • Glucose