By using the proton microprobe technique we have investigated the elemental composition of both pancreatic β-cells and exocrine pancreas from fed and 24 h or 48 h starved obese hyperglycemic mice. Among the 15 elements measured in the β-cells both Ca and Fe increased while Mg and S decreased significantly after 24 h of starvation, the effects being more pronounced after 48 h. When animals were starved for 48 h there was a decrease in the contents of Cl, Rb and Cu, whereas that of Al and Mn increased with 152 and 55%, respectively. There was an initial decrease in Na after 24 h of starvation, which was followed by an increase after 48 h. This is in contrast to Cd, which first increased and then decreased to a value lower than that obtained in the fed animal. The content of K showed a small decrease and that of Pb showed an increase only in the 24 h starved group. In the β-cells the contents of Zn and P did not change subsequent to starvation. In the exocrine pancreas Na, Cl and P decreased after 24 h of starvation and except for Na, the decrease was maintained when the starvation period was increased to 48 h. After 24 h there was a significant, though transient, increase in K, Mg and Rb. With regard to the contents of Zn, Cu and S there was a progressive decrease as the starvation continued. In contrast to the endocrine pancreas the content of Al in the exocrine pancreas did not change after 48 h of starvation. There was no change in islet insulin content subsequent to starvation. The extent to which the observed changes in β-cell elemental composition is involved in the impaired insulin release associated with starvation, merits further investigations.

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