Selective muscarinic sensitivity in perfused pancreata of obese Zucker rats

H. C. Lee, D. L. Curry, J. S. Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Insulin secretion was evaluated in response to the muscarinic agonist, bethanechol, and to the antagonist, atropine, in three-month-old female homozygous lean (Fa/Fa) and obese (fa/fa) Zucker rats, using an in vitro pancreas perfusion. Three doses of bethanechol were used (0.5, 5 or 50 μM). Bethanechol at 50 μM concentration had a significant potentiating effect on glucose-induced insulin secretion in pancreata from both lean and obese rats. There was no effect of atropine (25 μM) on insulin secretion in pancreata from either lean or obese rats. In another study, the perfusate used contained glucose at 75, 125 or 200 mg/dl for the entire 60 min period. Perfusate, with or without bethanechol (50 μM), was infused from 21-40 min, using a side-arm syringe. In general, bethanechol significantly increased insulin secretory rates in both lean and obese rats. Since the pancreas of obese rats secretes more insulin to the same glucose concentration than the pancreas of lean rats, we compared changes in insulin release due to bethanechol in obese and lean rats having comparable basal insulin secretory rates during the 11-20 min period. To produce comparable insulin secretion, glucose levels in the perfusate were kept lower in the obese group (75mg/dl). In the comparably secreting lean group, a glucose level of 200mg/dl was required. We also compared changes in insulin secretory rate due to bethanechol stimulation between groups with comparable insulin secretory rates during the 21-40 min period in the control groups, i.e. 75 mg/dl glucose in the obese group vs. 125mg/dl glucose in the lean group. In either experimental comparison, pancreata from obese rats showed greater changes in insulin secretory rates due to bethanechol than the pancreata from lean rats. The data reveal that there is no intrinsic cholinergic hyperactivity in the pancreata of obese rats. However, when the pancreas is stimulated to secrete insulin at similar release rates, muscarinic receptor modulation in the pancreata from obese rats is hypersensitive to bethanechol. We speculate that this could play a role in the establishment of hyperinsulinemia in obese Zucker rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-577
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1993


  • Atropine,
  • Bethanechol
  • In vitro pancreas perfusion
  • Muscarinic receptor sensitivity
  • Obese Zucker rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Endocrinology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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