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The endocrine part of the pancreas plays a central role in blood-glucose regulation. It is well established that an elevation of glucose concentration reduces secretion of the hyperglycaemia-associated hormone glucagon from pancreatic alpha 2 cells. The mechanisms involved, however, remain unknown. Electrophysiological studies have demonstrated that alpha 2 cells generate Ca2+-dependent action potentials. The frequency of these action potentials, which increases under conditions that stimulate glucagon release, is not affected by glucose or insulin. The inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is present in the endocrine part of the pancreas at concentrations comparable to those encountered in the central nervous system, and co-localizes with insulin in pancreatic beta cells. We now describe a mechanism whereby GABA, co-secreted with insulin from beta cells, may mediate part of the inhibitory action of glucose on glucagon secretion by activating GABAA-receptor Cl- channels in alpha 2 cells. These observations provide a model for feedback regulation of glucagon release, which may be of significance for the understanding of the hypersecretion of glucagon frequently associated with diabetes.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





233 - 236


Animals, Bicuculline, Chloride Channels, Chlorides, Electric Conductivity, Glucagon, Glucose, Guinea Pigs, In Vitro Techniques, Islets of Langerhans, Membrane Potentials, Membrane Proteins, Receptors, GABA-A, Secretory Rate, gamma-Aminobutyric Acid