Signal transduction mechanisms in nutrient-induced insulin secretion

Diabetologia. 1997 Jul;40 Suppl 2:S32-41. doi: 10.1007/s001250051395.


The knowledge of the mechanism whereby glucose and other fuel stimuli promote the release of insulin by the pancreatic beta cell remains fragmentary. The closure of metabolically sensitive K+ channels and a rise in cytosolic free Ca2+ are key features of beta-cell metabolic signal transduction. However, these two signalling events do not account for the dose dependence of glucose-induced insulin secretion. In fact, recent evidence indicates that there are KATP channel and Ca2+ independent pathway(s) of beta-cell activation which remain to be defined. In this review, we have limited our attention to the recent developments in our understanding of the mode of action of nutrient secretagogues. A particular emphasis is placed in summarising the evidence in support of two new concepts: 1) oscillations in the glycolytic pathway and beta-cell metabolism contribute to the oscillatory nature of beta-cell ionic events and insulin secretion; 2) malonyl-CoA and long chain acyl-CoA esters may act as metabolic coupling factors in beta-cell signalling. Finally, we propose that the altered expression of genes encoding enzymes in the pathway of malonyl-CoA formation and fatty acid oxidation contributes to the beta-cell insensitivity to glucose in some patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Malonyl Coenzyme A / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Insulin
  • Malonyl Coenzyme A