Beta cell Signalling Revisited


The International Group on Insulin Secretion – IGIS – was established in the late 1990s by a group of academic researchers to boost interest in islet biology and insulin secretion and promote the dissemination of front-line research results to a wider medical public.

As a company with a long-standing interest in promoting research in diabetes, Servier provided IGIS with a long-term grant. Thanks to this support, a series of yearly closed symposia was initiated, each focusing on a central theme related to islet function in relation to type 2 diabetes.

Attended by senior scientists and younger researchers, these symposia were developed into high-level meetings with an emphasis on extensive interaction.

The XVIIIth Servier-IGIS Symposium, held on the theme “Beta cell Signalling Revisited,” was another successful meeting where leading experts were able to interact and share their views of the subjects discussed at the meeting.

With a view of sharing the latest developments with scientists and clinicians working in the field of diabetes, the present Digest summarizes a range of topics covered at the Symposium.

Cell signalling is part of any communication process that governs and coordinates basic cellular activities and actions. The ability of cells to perceive, integrate, and respond correctly to signals from the microenvironment is the basis of development, tissue repair, and immunity as well as normal tissue homeostasis. Defective cell signalling is responsible for numerous diseases, such as cancer, autoimmunity, and diabetes.1,2 A better understanding of β cell signalling could logically lead to new therapeutic opportunities to fight both type 1 and type 2 diabetes by, at least in part, restoring insulin secretion. The 18th Servier-IGIS symposium revisited β cell signalling by focusing on new mechanisms and approaches, such as N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, calcium-binding proteins, or β cell metabolomics. First, we will consider the receptors at the surface of the β cell as the first step in cell signalling. Then, we will focus on new findings about the well-known intracellular regulators, namely Ca2+ and cyclic AMP (cAMP), and more specifically, on how these regulators may affect β cell function and survival. Metabolic signals play a fundamental role in controlling insulin secretion, and β cell metabolomics has uncovered new regulatory pathways. Finally, this review will discuss exocytosis, the ultimate step in insulin secretion, and the importance of the islet microenvironment and organ cross talk in maintaining adequate insulin secretion.