Melittin, an amphipathic polypeptide, stimulated the secretion of insulin from rat islets of Langerhans incubated in vitro. The secretory response was dose-dependent and saturable with half the maximal response elicited by a melittin concentration of 4 μg/ml. The response was rapid in onset, an increase in secretion occurring within 2 rain of exposure of the islets to melittin (2 μg/ml). An enhanced secretory rate could be maintained for at least 40 rain in the presence of melittin but declined steadily when the agent was removed. Stimulation of secretion by melittin occurred in the absence of glucose and in the presence of both 4 mM and 8 mM glucose but not in the presence of 20 mM glucose. The effect of melittin on secretion was dependent on the presence of extracellular calcium but was not inhibited by norepinephrine. The data suggest that melittin may be a valuable agent for further study of the role played by the B-cell plasma membrane in the regulation of insulin secretion.

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