Exposing micro-dissected pancreatic islets of non-inbred ob/ob mice to 2-5 mM-alloxan for 10 min decreased the ability of the islets to accumulate Rb+. Rb+ accumulation in pieces of exocrine pancreas was unaffected by alloxan. When islets were treated with alloxan in the presence of 2-20 mM-D-glucose, the Rb+-accumulating ability was protected in a dose-dependent manner. The protective action of D-glucose was reproduced with 3-O-methyl-D-glucose but not with L-glucose or D-mannoheptulose; mannoheptulose prevented D-glucose from exerting its protective action. The inhibition of Rb+ accumulation was due to a decreased inward pumping, since alloxan did not affect Rb+ efflux from pre-loaded islets. The inhibitory effect of alloxan had a latency of about 1 min, as revealed by experiments with dispersed islet cells in suspension. Alloxan-treated islets showed only a marginal decrease in ATP and no change in glucose 6-phosphate concentration. Although alloxan slightly decreased the hydrolysis of ATP in a subcellular fraction enriched in plasma membranes, this effect could not be attributed to a ouabain-sensitive adenosine triphosphatase. The plasma membranes exhibited a K+-activated hydrolysis of p-nitrophenyl phosphate; this enzyme activity too was insensitive to alloxan. Glucose may protect the univalent-cation pump by preventing permeation of alloxan via a path coupled to the hexose-transport system. Inhibition of the pump may be fundamental to the induction of alloxan-diabetes.

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