A monolayer culture system was developed to study the role of microtubules in insulin secretion. Cultured cells were obtained to study the role of microtubules in insulin secretion. Cultured cells were obtained by enzymatic digestion of pancreases from C57BL-KsJ mice 6-12 wk of age. On day 4 of culture, the medium was changed, control or treatment medium added, and frequent samples were removed for insulin assay. Microtubules and beta cells were identified by indirect immunofluorescence with monospecific antibodies to tubulin and insulin. An extensive microtubule network radiates from the perinuclear region of the beta cell to the plasma membrane. Although alterations in the calcium concentration of the medium did not affect the microtubule pattern, the absence of calcium or glucose in the medium inhibited insulin secretion (P less than 0.001). Optimum insulin release occurred at a calcium concentration of 2.5 mM. Colchicine, in concentrations of 10(-10) M, did not affect the microtubule immunofluorescent pattern, whereas concentrations of 1 and 5 x 10(-7) M decreased the number of microtubules, and microtubules could not be identified in cultures treated with 10(-6) M colchicine for 2 h. After a 2-h preincubation, the prolonged release of insulin at either 2.0 or 4.5 mg/ml of glucose was decreased by 10(-6) M colchicine (P less than 0.02). The immediate release of insulin was similar to that in control plates and occurred in cultures with no identifiable microtubules. Microtubules and insulin secretion were not altered by 10(-6) M lumicolchicine and prolonged insulin secretion recovered 24 h after removal of colchicine. These studies show that the microtubules facilitate sustained secretion of insulin but are not required for the immediate release of the hormone. Alterations in the extracellular calcium concentration which play an essential role in insulin secretion do not alter the microtubule pattern in the beta cell.

This content is only available as a PDF.