beta cell signalling

Beta cells are unusual in the body in that they respond to a wide range of signals including metabolic factors (e.g. sugary, fatty acids, amino acids) hormones (e.g. adrenalin, growth hormone, prolactin) incretins (e.g. glucagon - like peptide -1; gastrointestinal peptide, ghrelin) neurotransmitters (e.g. acetylcholine, noradrenaline) growth factors (including insulin itself, insulin-like growth factors, epidermal growth factors)and cytokines (both pro - and anti- inflammatory); to name but a few. These signals must be integrated to produce an appropriate insuin secretory response according to the prevailing metabolic conditions and to maintain cell viability. Our team is studying several of the signalling pathways controlled by factors that impinge on the beta cells, including those controlled by fatty acids, cytokines and growth factors. We aim to identify important molecular targets that might provide a means to intervene using appropriate drugs that will enhance insulin secretion and improve beta cell visibility in patients with diabetes, in whom these processes are compromised.