In insulin-resistant states such as obesity, pancreatic β-cells proliferate to prevent blood glucose elevations. However, the mechanism(s) by which obesity induces compensatory β-cell responses is not fully understood. Recently, several studies have shown that signals from the liver, such as neuronal signals or humoral factors, regulate β-cell proliferation during obesity development. We previously reported a liver-brain-pancreas neuronal relay, consisting of afferent splanchnic nerves, the central nervous system and efferent vagal nerves, to promote this compensatory β-cell proliferation. Furthermore, we recently clarified the molecular mechanisms by which efferent vagal signals induce β-cell proliferation in this inter-organ neuronal network system. Herein, these liver-β-cell inter-organ networks are reviewed, focusing mainly on the neuronal network. The significance of the neuronal network system in the maintenance of glucose homeostasis is also discussed with reference to the relevant literature.
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