1. Rates of insulin release, glucose utilization (measured as [3H]water formation from [5-3H]glucose) and glucose oxidation (measured as14CO2 formation from [1-14C]- or [6-14C]-glucose) were determined in mouse pancreatic islets incubated in vitro, and were used to estimate the rate of oxidation of glucose by the pentose cycle pathway under various conditions. Rates of oxidation of [U-14C]ribose and [U-14C]xylitol were also measured. 2. Insulin secretion was stimulated fivefold when the medium glucose concentration was raised from 3.3 to 16.7mm in the absence of caffeine; in the presence of caffeine (5mm) a similar increase in glucose concentration evoked a much larger (30-fold) increase in insulin release. Glucose utilization was also increased severalfold as the intracellular glucose concentration was raised over this range, particularly between 5 and 11mm, but the rate of oxidation of glucose via the pentose cycle was not increased. 3. Glucosamine (20mm) inhibited glucose-stimulated insulin release and glucose utilization but not glucose metabolism via the pentose cycle. No evidence was obtained for any selective effect on the metabolism of glucose via the pentose cycle of tolbutamide, glibenclamide, dibutyryl 3′:5′-cyclic AMP, glucagon, caffeine, theophylline, ouabain, adrenaline, colchicine, mannoheptulose or iodoacetamide. Phenazine methosulphate (5μm) increased pentose-cycle flux but inhibited glucose-stimulated insulin release. 4. No formation of14CO2 from [U-14C]ribose could be detected: [U-14C]xylitol gave rise to small amounts of14CO2. Ribose and xylitol had no effect on the rate of oxidation of glucose; ribitol and xylitol had no effect on the rate of glucose utilization. Ribose, ribitol and xylitol did not stimulate insulin release under conditions in which glucose produced a large stimulation. 5. It is concluded that in normal mouse islets glucose metabolism via the pentose cycle does not play a primary role in insulin-secretory responses.

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