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Linda Ahlkvist

Research project participant

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Incretin hormone receptors are required for normal beta cell development and function in female mice


  • Bilal Omar
  • Linda Ahlkvist
  • Yuchiro Yamada
  • Yutaka Seino
  • Bo Ahrén

Summary, in English

The incretin hormones, glucose dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), potentiate insulin secretion and are responsible for the majority of insulin secretion that occurs after a meal. They may also, however, have a fundamental role in pancreatic beta cell development and function, independently of their role in potentiating insulin secretion after a meal. This has led to observations that a loss of GIP or GLP-1 action affects normal beta cell function, however each one of the incretin hormones may compensate when the action of the other is lost and therefore the overall impact of the incretin hormones on beta cell function is not known. We therefore utilized a mouse line deficient in both the GLP-1 and GIP receptor genes, the double incretin receptor knockout (DIRKO), to determine the consequences of a lifelong, complete lack of incretin hormone action on beta cell function, in vivo, in intact animals. We found that DIRKO mice displayed impaired glucose tolerance and insulin secretion in response to both oral glucose and mixed meal tolerance tests compared to wild-type mice. Assessment of beta cell function using the hyperglycemic clamp technique revealed an 80% decrease in first phase insulin response in DIRKO mice, but a normal second phase insulin secretion. A similar decline was seen when wild-type mice were given acute intravenous injection of glucose together with the GLP-1 receptor antagonist Ex9-39. Ex vivo assessments of the pancreas revealed significantly fewer islets in the pancreata of DIRKO mice despite no differences in total pancreatic mass. Insulin secretion from isolated islets of DIRKO mice was impaired to a similar extent to that seen during the hyperglycemic clamp. Insulin secretion in wild-type islets was impaired by acute treatment with Ex9-39 to a similar extent as the in vivo intravenous glucose tolerance tests. In conclusion, a loss of the action of both incretin hormones results in direct impairment of beta cell function both in vivo and in vitro in a process that appears to be independent of the intestinally secreted incretin hormones. We therefore conclude that the incretin hormones together significantly impact both beta-cell function and beta-cell development.


  • Medicine, Lund
  • EXODIAB: Excellence in Diabetes Research in Sweden

Publishing year










Document type

Journal article




  • Cell and Molecular Biology




  • ISSN: 1873-5169