Pancreatic islet β-cells transiently metabolize pyruvate

Jonathan V. Rocheleau, W. Steven Head, Wendell E. Nicholson, Alvin C. Powers, David W. Piston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Pancreatic β-cell metabolism was followed during glucose and pyruvate stimulation of pancreatic islets using quantitative two-photon NAD(P)H imaging. The observed redox changes, spatially separated between the cytoplasm and mitochondria, were compared with whole islet insulin secretion. As expected, both NAD(P)H and insulin secretion showed sustained increases in response to glucose stimulation. In contrast, pyruvate caused a much lower NAD(P)H response and did not generate insulin secretion. Low pyruvate concentrations decreased cytoplasmic NAD(P)H without affecting mitochondrial NAD(P)H, whereas higher concentrations increased cytoplasmic and mitochondrial levels. However, the pyruvate-stimulated mitochondrial increase was transient and equilibrated to near-base-line levels. Inhibitors of the mitochondrial pyruvate-transporter and malate-aspartate shuttle were utilized to resolve the glucose- and pyruvate-stimulated NAD(P)H response mechanisms. These data showed that glucose-stimulated mitochondrial NAD(P)H and insulin secretion are independent of pyruvate transport but dependent on NAD(P)H shuttling. In contrast, the pyruvate-stimulated cytoplasmic NAD(P)H response was enhanced by both inhibitors. Surprisingly the malateaspartate shuttle inhibitor enabled pyruvate-stimulated insulin secretion. These data support a model in which glycolysis plays a dominant role in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Based on these data, we propose a mechanism for glucose-stimulated insulin secretion that includes allosteric inhibition of tricarboxylic acid cycle enzymes and pH dependence of mitochondrial pyruvate transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30914-30920
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 23 2002


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