Physiology of pancreatic islet hormone secretion
The research in our group aims at clarifying the mechanisms that regulate the release of insulin, glucagon, somatostatin as well as other peptides and secretory factors from the islets of Langerhans. Insulin promotes uptake and storage of glucose and other sources of energy in liver, muscle and fat cells following meal ingestion, while the main function of glucagon is to mobilize glucose to prevent potentially life-threatening hypoglycaemia during fasting. Insufficient secretion of insulin and dysregulated secretion of glucagon are hallmarks of diabetes but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Elucidation of the molecular and cellular physiology of islet hormone secretion and the malfunctions causing diabetes may provide new strategies for treatment and prevention of the disease.
By combining biochemical and molecular biology techniques with fluorescent cell signalling biosensors and live-cell imaging methods, we study the spatio-temporal dynamics of signalling processes that regulate secretion in single cells and intact mouse and human pancreatic islets. We are particularly interested in how the islet cells sense environmental stimuli and translate them into altered rates of hormone release and how the intra- and intercellular signalling is organized to generate an appropriate time-course of hormone secretion.