Secretion of glucagon from the pancreatic α-cells is conventionally seen as the first and most important defense against hypoglycemia. Recent findings, however, show that α-cell signals stimulate insulin secretion from the neighboring β-cell. This article focuses on these seemingly counterintuitive local actions of α-cells and describes how they impact islet biology and glucose metabolism. It is mostly based on studies published in the last decade on the physiology of α-cells in human islets and incorporates results from rodents where appropriate. As this and the accompanying articles show, the emerging picture of α-cell function is one of increased complexity that needs to be considered when developing new therapies aimed at promoting islet function in the context of diabetes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism