By degranulating beta-cells in the islets of Langerhans of the rat with sulfonylurea, it has been possible to distinguish unambiguously alpha-cells from beta-cells in freeze-fracture replicas. In such preparations, we found morphologically typical tight and gap junctions occurring between alpha- and beta-cells. The presence of gap junctions offers indirect evidence that these cells are coupled with one another; coupling may influence the secretory behavior of alpha- and beta-cells maintaining glucose homeostasis within tightly constricted limits.
L Orci, F Malaisse-Lagae, M Ravazzola, D Rouiller, A E Renold, A Perrelet, R Unger
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