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F Martin, J A Reig, and B Soria


The effects of secretagogues (glucose, tolbutamide and phorbol esters) on simultaneously measured intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) and insulin release were studied in rat pancreatic islets of Langerhans. Stimulatory concentrations (11 mm) of glucose caused a transient [Ca2+]i increase followed by an almost flat second phase. Increasing glucose concentrations to 16·7 mm in steps caused a further increase in [Ca2+]i. In contrast with mouse islets, rat islets scarcely showed glucose-induced [Ca2+]i oscillations. Digital image analysis showed that [Ca2+]i changes occurred synchronously across the whole islet. As expected, simultaneously measured insulin release was biphasic with a clear second phase. This clearly indicated that in rat islets there is a lack of correlation between [Ca2+]i and insulin release. This was further explored using agents which separately promoted the first (tolbutamide, 200 μm) and second (phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate; PMA; 5 nm) phases of insulin release. Tolbutamide induced a transient increase in [Ca2+]i paralleled by a transient increase in insulin release, whereas PMA induced a slow increase in insulin release without a clear change in [Ca2+]i. These results suggest that in rat islets the first phase of insulin release is calcium dependent, whereas the second phase is related to the activation of protein kinase C (PKC). However, the glucose-induced second phase of insulin release did not coincide with an increase in membrane-associated PKC activity. Other messengers may contribute to this late phase of insulin release.

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C-L Hsieh, Z Xie, Z-Y Liu, J E Green, W D Martin, M W Datta, F Yeung, D Pan, and L W K Chung

Numerous mouse models of prostate carcinogenesis have been developed, but hitherto there has been no model in which the prostate gland could be imaged in live animals. The transgenic model generated here targeted mouse prostate gland using a firefly luciferase enzyme under the control of a small but highly active and specific supra prostate-specific antigen (sPSA) promoter. We evaluated postnatal prostate development, involution and androgen-induced restoration of prostate growth in adult transgenic mice using bioluminescence imaging. Results of our study showed that: (i) the prostate gland of male offspring did not yield a significant bioluminescence signal until after sexual maturity. Luciferase was detected in the luminal epithelial cells of the ventral and dorsolateral lobes of the prostate gland and caput epididymis, with little or no activity in 18 other organs evaluated. (ii) While a constant high level of bioluminescence was detected in the mouse prostate from 5 to 35 weeks of age, a slight drop in bioluminescence was detected at 36 to 54 weeks. (iii) Upon castration, the luciferase activity signal associated with mouse prostate detected by a cooled charge-coupled device camera was dramatically reduced. This signal could be rapidly restored to pre-castration levels after androgen administration. Androgen-induced luciferase activity subsided to nearly basal levels 5 days following the last injection. These data demonstrate that a bioluminescent mouse model with luciferase activity restricted to the prostate gland under the control of a (sPSA) promoter can be used on a real-time basis in live animals to investigate the development and responsiveness of the prostate gland to exogenously administered androgen. This model can be extended to detect the responsiveness of the prostate gland to therapy and used as a founder strain to visualize tumors in hosts with different genetic backgrounds.

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Darren S D Martin, Siobhán Leonard, Robert Devine, Clara Redondo, Gemma K Kinsella, Conor J Breen, Victoria McEneaney, Mary F Rooney, Tim S Munsey, Richard K Porter, Asipu Sivaprasadarao, John C Stephens, and John B C Findlay

Metformin is the main drug of choice for treating type 2 diabetes, yet the therapeutic regimens and side effects of the compound are all undesirable and can lead to reduced compliance. The aim of this study was to elucidate the mechanism of action of two novel compounds which improved glucose handling and weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet. Wildtype C57Bl/6 male mice were fed on a high-fat diet and treated with novel, anti-diabetic compounds. Both compounds restored the glucose handling ability of these mice. At a cellular level, these compounds achieve this by inhibiting complex I activity in mitochondria, leading to AMP-activated protein kinase activation and subsequent increased glucose uptake by the cells, as measured in the mouse C2C12 muscle cell line. Based on the inhibition of NADH dehydrogenase (IC50 27µmolL−1), one of these compounds is close to a thousand fold more potent than metformin. There are no indications of off target effects. The compounds have the potential to have a greater anti-diabetic effect at a lower dose than metformin and may represent a new anti-diabetic compound class. The mechanism of action appears not to be as an insulin sensitizer but rather as an insulin substitute.