The insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) signalling pathways are present in most mammalian cells and play important roles in the growth and metabolism of tissues. Most proteins in these pathways have also been identified in the β-cells of the pancreatic islets. Tissue-specific knockout of the insulin receptor (βIRKO) or IGF-1 receptor (βIGFRKO) in pancreatic β-cells leads to altered glucose-sensing and glucose intolerance in adult mice, and βIRKO mice show an age-dependent decrease in islet size and β-cell mass. These data indicate that these receptors are important for differentiated function and are unlikely to play a major role in the early growth and/or development of the pancreatic islets. Conventional insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) knockouts manifest growth retardation and mild insulin resistance. The IRS-1 knockouts also display islet hyperplasia, defects in insulin secretory responses to multiple stimuli both in vivo and in vitro, reduced islet insulin content and an increased number of autophagic vacuoles in the β-cells. Re-expression of IRS-1 in cultured β-cells is able to partially restore the insulin content indicating that IRS-1 is involved in the regulation of insulin synthesis. Taken together, these data provide evidence that insulin and IGF-1 receptors and IRS-1, and potentially other proteins in the insulin/IGF-1 signalling pathway, contribute to the regulation of islet hormone secretion and synthesis and therefore in the maintenance of glucose homeostasis.

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