These studies of partial pancreatectomy assess pancreatic proinsulin messenger RNA (mRNA) levels as an index of in vivo insulin biosynthesis, and show relationships to glucose homeostasis. Rats were subjected to sham operation, 50% pancreatectomy (Px), or 90% Px, and were examined after 1, 3, or 14 wk. Proinsulin mRNA was measured by dot hybridization to complementary DNA. After 50% Px there was a nearly complete adaptation of proinsulin mRNA. After 90% Px a marked increase of proinsulin mRNA occurred, but it was insufficient and it was not maintained with time. The deficit in insulin production is related to development of hyperglycemia. Sham-operated controls showed no worsening of fasting or fed blood glucose or of intraperitoneal glucose tolerance within the period of observation. Total proinsulin mRNA and pancreatic insulin content rose in proportion to body weight. 50% Px produced no change from controls in body weight or blood glucose. The concentration of proinsulin mRNA in the 50% pancreatic remnant paralleled that of controls after 1 and 3 wk, but then increased after 14 wk, such that total proinsulin mRNA approached control levels. This adaptive response was reflected by changes in serum insulin, but not by pancreatic insulin content, which was only 30% of control after 14 wk. Intraperitoneal glucose tolerance was impaired mildly, and did not worsen with time after pancreatectomy. 90% Px led to elevated fed blood glucose and reduced serum insulin after 3 wk, and fasting hyperglycemia was seen after 14 wk. Proinsulin mRNA concentration in the 10% pancreatic remnant showed an adaptive increase after 1 and 3 wk, such that total proinsulin mRNA reached 40% of control. After 14 wk, however, remnant proinsulin mRNA concentration was no longer increased; total proinsulin mRNA and pancreatic insulin content were severely reduced. Intraperitoneal glucose tolerance was impaired more dramatically than with the 50% Px animals, and worsened with time after operation. These observations indicate ability to increase proinsulin mRNA levels as an adaptation to pancreatectomy. Insufficiency of this adaptation is associated with the development of hyperglycemia, and the loss of this adaptation correlates with a worsening of glucose tolerance.
M J Orland, R Chyn, M A Permutt