CART is a novel islet regulatory peptide

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CART peptides have emerged as important islet regulators. CART is expressed both in islet endocrine cells and in parasympathetic and sensory nerves innervating the islets. In adult rats the intra-islet expression of CART is limited to the somatostatin producing δ-cells, while in adult mice CART is mainly expressed in nerve fibers. During development islet CART is upregulated; in rats in almost all types of islet endocrine cells, including the insulin-producing β-cells, and in mice mainly in the α-cells. This pattern of expression peaks around birth. CART is also expressed in human pancreatic nerves and in islet tumours where the expression level of CART may be related to the degree of differentiation of the tumour. Interestingly, in several rat models of type 2 diabetes CART expression is robustly upregulated in the β-cells, and is prominent during the phase of beta cell proliferation and hypertrophy. While CART inhibits glucose stimulated insulin secretion from rat islets it augments insulin secretion amplified by cAMP. Mice lacking CART, on the other hand, have islet dysfunction, and humans with a missense mutation in the cart gene are prone to develop type 2 diabetes. These data favor a role of CART in normal islet function and in the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes.

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