The capacity to secrete insulin is dose-dependent to extremely high glucose concentrations: A key role for adenylyl cyclase

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Insulin secretion is widely thought to be maximally stimulated in glucose concentrations of 16.7-to-30 mM (300-to-540 mg/dL). However, insulin secretion is seldom tested in hyperglycemia exceeding these levels despite the Guinness World Record being 147.6 mM (2656 mg/dL). We investigated how islets respond to 1-h exposure to glucose approaching this record. Insulin secretion from human islets at 12 mM glucose intervals dose-dependently increased until at least 72 mM glucose. Murine islets in 84 mM glucose secreted nearly double the insulin as in 24 mM (p < 0.001). Intracellular calcium was maximally stimulated in 24 mM glucose despite a further doubling of insulin secretion in higher glucose, implying that insulin secretion above 24 mM occurs through amplifying pathway(s). Increased osmolarity of 425-mOsm had no effect on insulin secretion (1-h exposure) or viability (48-h exposure) in murine islets. Murine islets in 24 mM glucose treated with a glucokinase activator secreted as much insulin as islets in 84 mM glucose, indicating that glycolytic capacity exists above 24 mM. Using an incretin mimetic and an adenylyl cyclase activator in 24 mM glucose enhanced insulin secretion above that observed in 84 mM glucose while adenylyl cyclase inhibitor reduced stimulatory effects. These results highlight the underestimated ability of islets to secrete insulin proportionally to extreme hyperglycemia through adenylyl cyclase activity.