Galanin and the endocrine pancreas

Bo Ahrén, Patrik Rorsman, Per Olof Berggren

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Galanin is a 29 amino acid peptide, initially isolated from the porcine small intestine. The peptide has been shown to occur in intrapancreatic nerves in close association to the islets. Its effects on islet hormone secretion and its possible mechanisms behind these effects are reviewed. Galanin has been shown to inhibit basal and stimulated insulin secretion both in vivo and in vitro under a variety of experimental conditions. The peptide has also been shown to inhibit somatostatin secretion and the secretion of pancreatic polypeptide (PP). With regard to glucagon secretion, however, results in the literature are not consistent since both stimulatory and inhibitory effects have been reported. A direct interaction with the pancreatic β-cells has been proposed behind its inhibitory action on insulin secretion, since galanin inhibits insulin secretion from isolated β-cells from obese, hyperglycaemic, mice. Galanin has thereby also been shown to induce repolarization and to reduce the free Ca2+ concentration, [Ca2+]i. The reduction in [Ca2+]i is probably not due to a direct interference with the voltage-activated Ca2+ channels, since there is no effect of galanin when these channels are opened by depolarization induced by high concentrations of K+. Instead, preliminary studies indicate that galanin activates the K+ channels that are regulated by ATP, in turn inducing a repolarization-induced reduction in [Ca2+]i resulting in reduced insulin secretion. However, the possibility that galanin inhibits the insulin secretory mechanism at a step distal to the regulation of cytoplasmic free Ca2+ concentration should not be overlooked.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-237
Number of pages5
JournalFEBS letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 14 1988


  • (Pancreas, Islets of Langerhans)
  • Ca
  • Galanin
  • Glucagon secretion
  • Insulin secretion
  • Pancreatic polypeptide secretion
  • Somatostatin secretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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