Islet biology

The endocrine pancreas is composed of clusters of cells, or islets, which secrete endocrine factors important for systemic metabolism, including insulin and glucagon. A large proportion of the islet cell mass comprises insulin secreting β-cells, which regulate plasma levels of glucose. In addition, islets contain glucagon secreting α-cells, other endocrine cell populations and immune cells. Autoimmune β-cell destruction leads to type 1 diabetes mellitus, where the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin. In type 2 diabetes mellitus, β-cells are dysfunctional and cannot produce enough insulin to maintain normoglycaemia in the face of insulin resistance. The purpose of this article series is to highlight developments in islet biology and provide a knowledge hub for the diabetes mellitus research community. Ultimately, increasing our understanding of the cellular composition, function and cell–cell crosstalk in pancreatic islets might lead to the development of novel management strategies for diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome.

Cartoon islets


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