Urocortin3: Local inducer of somatostatin release and bellwether of beta cell maturity

Marcus F. Flisher, Donghan Shin, Mark O. Huising

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Urocortin 3 (UCN3) is a peptide hormone expressed in pancreatic islets of Langerhans of both human alpha and human beta cells and solely in murine beta cells. UCN3 signaling acts locally within the islet to activate its cognate receptor, corticotropin releasing hormone receptor 2 (CRHR2), which is expressed by delta cells, to potentiate somatostatin (SST) negative feedback to reduce islet cell hormone output. The functional importance of UCN3 signaling in the islet is to modulate the amount of SST tone allowing for finely tuned regulation of insulin and glucagon secretion. UCN3 signaling is a hallmark of functional beta cell maturation, increasing the beta cell glucose threshold for insulin secretion. In doing so, UCN3 plays a relevant functional role in accurately maintaining blood glucose homeostasis. Additionally, UCN3 acts as an indicator of beta cell maturation and health, as UCN3 is not expressed in immature beta cells and is downregulated in dedifferentiated and dysfunctional beta cell states. Here, we review the mechanistic underpinnings of UCN3 signaling, its net effect on islet cell hormone output, as well as its value as a marker for beta cell maturation and functional status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number170748
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Beta cell maturity
  • CRH
  • Glucagon
  • Insulin
  • Pancreatic islet
  • SST
  • UCN3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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