Beta cell connectivity in pancreatic islets: a type 2 diabetes target?
Rutter GA., Hodson DJ.
Beta cell connectivity describes the phenomenon whereby the islet context improves insulin secretion by providing a three-dimensional platform for intercellular signaling processes. Thus, the precise flow of information through homotypically interconnected beta cells leads to the large-scale organization of hormone release activities, influencing cell responses to glucose and other secretagogues. Although a phenomenon whose importance has arguably been underappreciated in islet biology until recently, a growing number of studies suggest that such cell-cell communication is a fundamental property of this micro-organ. Hence, connectivity may plausibly be targeted by both environmental and genetic factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) to perturb normal beta cell function and insulin release. Here, we review the mechanisms that contribute to beta cell connectivity, discuss how these may fail during T2DM, and examine approaches to restore insulin secretion by boosting cell communication.