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Extracellular but not intracellular application of peptide hormones activates pancreatic acinar cells


Peptide hormones, like neurotransmitters, are traditionally thought to activate cells by interacting with receptor sites accessible only from the extracellular space1–3. However, there is no available evidence that establishes whether intracellular injections of peptide secretagogues can or cannot initiate cell activation. In view of recent demonstrations that peptide hormones can penetrate the intracellular space in some tissues1,4 and the reports that intracellular injections of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, into acinar cells of cockroach salivary gland cause stimulation5 it seems of fundamental importance to test directly whether introduction of peptide secretagogues inside acinar cells of mammalian exocrine tissue can induce cell activation without first interacting with the outer surface of the external cell membrane. The data presented here show that injections of the secretagogue peptides caerulein and bombesin-nonapeptide (bombesin-NP) into pancreatic acinar cells fail to evoke the characteristic potential and conductance changes that are observed following extracellular applications of these peptides.

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Philpott, H., Petersen, O. Extracellular but not intracellular application of peptide hormones activates pancreatic acinar cells. Nature 281, 684–686 (1979).

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