Increased levels of circulating glucose and fatty acids can be found in patients with type 2 diabetes, which in turn leads to disease complications. In healthy individuals, β cells within pancreatic islets release insulin in response to glucose and incretins, which are gastrointestinal hormones. Coordination between β cells is predicted to be important for insulin release.
In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, David Hodson and colleagues at Imperial College London demonstrate that β cell-β cell interactions are important for insulin secretion in human islets and that these interactions are regulated by incretins. The authors found that increased fatty acid levels suppressed incretin-associated insulin release. These findings indicate that therapies aimed at maintaining β cell connectivity may be useful for restoring glucose balance in type 2 diabetes.