The regulatory role of cyclic AMP (cAMP) in the growth and insulin production of the islet organ in vitro has been investigated. The effects of dibutyryl cyclic AMP (dbcAMP), theophylline, and 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX) on DNA replication and on the biosynthesis of RNA and insulin in fetal rat islets of Langerhans maintained in tissue culture have been studied. Raising the glucose concentration from 2.7 mM to 16.7 mM caused a two-fold increase in DNA replication. Both dbcAMP and theophylline markedly inhibited the DNA replication at all glucose Concentrations studied. Low concentrations of IBMX stimulated DNA synthesis. However, at higher concentrations of this drug, known to considerably increase the islet cAMP levels, a marked inhibition of islet DNA replication was observed. Both (pro)insulin and total protein biosynthesis were stimulated by glucose, whereas dbcAMP stimulated only the (pro)insulin biosynthesis. Since glucose is known to raise islet intracellular levels of cAMP, which is known to be an inhibitor of cellular proliferation, the observed glucose stimulation of both islet-cell DNA replication and insulin production appeared conflicting. It is suggested that this dual effect of glucose may depend on a stimulation of proliferation in a limited pool of islet cells which may not exhibit an increase in cAMP.

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