The direct effects of alpha- and beta-interferons on isolated mouse pancreatic islets were investigated in vitro and found to be similar. After 7 h incubation with interferon concentrations above 350 units/ml, glucose-stimulated (pro)insulin biosynthesis was significantly inhibited, with only a slight inhibition of total protein biosynthesis. Inhibition could be abolished in the additional presence of an anti-interferon antibody. Interferon did not affect insulin release, total insulin content, or glucose oxidation of the islets. The stimulation of (pro)insulin biosynthesis by adenosine, D-glyceraldehyde, mannose, N-acetylglucosamine and leucine was also inhibited by interferon, with no effect on insulin release. At concentrations of dsRNA (double-stranded RNA) said to induce interferon (1-100 micrograms/ml), glucose-stimulated (pro)insulin biosynthesis was inhibited without significantly affecting insulin release. The dsRNA may itself inhibit stimulated (pro)insulin biosynthesis or may function indirectly by the induction of interferon.

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