Neural relay from the liver induces proliferation of pancreatic β cells

Hideki Katagiri, Junta Imai, Yoshitomo Oka

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Systemic homeostasis requires coordinated metabolic regulation among multiple tissues/organs via inter-organ communication. We have reported that neuronal signaling plays important roles in this inter-organ metabolic communication. First, we found that liver-selective extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation induces insulin hypersecretion and pancreatic β cell proliferation. Denervation experiments revealed that these interorgan (liver-to-pancreas) effects are mediated by a neural relay consisting of splanchnic afferents (from the liver) and vagal efferents (to the pancreas). The central nervous system also participates in this inter-organ communication. This neural relay system originating in the liver is physiologically involved in the anti-diabetes mechanism whereby, during obesity development, insulin hypersecretion and pancreatic β cell hyperplasia occur in response to insulin resistance. This indicates the pathophysiological importance of this system in diabetes prevention and hyperinsulinemia development. Furthermore, when applied to mouse models of insulin-deficient diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, hepatic activation of ERK signaling increased pancreatic β cell mass and normalized blood glucose. Thus, this inter-organ system may serve as a valuable therapeutic target for diabetes by regenerating pancreatic β cells. The concept that manipulation of an endogenous mechanism can regenerate a damaged tissue in vivo may open a new paradigm for regenerative trreatments for degenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-427
Number of pages3
JournalCommunicative and Integrative Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Diabetes
  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Insulin
  • Insulin resistance
  • Inter-organ metabolic communication
  • Neural relay
  • Pancreatic β cells
  • Regenerative medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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