Free fatty acid receptor 4 inhibitory signaling in delta cells regulates islet hormone secretion in mice

Marine L. Croze, Marcus F. Flisher, Arthur Guillaume, Caroline Tremblay, ... Vincent Poitout


Maintenance of glucose homeostasis requires the precise regulation of hormone secretion from the endocrine pancreas. Free fatty acid receptor 4 (FFAR4/GPR120) is a G protein-coupled receptor whose activation in islets of Langerhans promotes insulin and glucagon secretion and inhibits somatostatin secretion. However, the contribution of individual islet cell types (α, β, and δ cells) to the insulinotropic and glucagonotropic effects of GPR120 remains unclear. As gpr120 mRNA is enriched in somatostatin-secreting δ cells, we hypothesized that GPR120 activation stimulates insulin and glucagon secretion via inhibition of somatostatin release.


Glucose tolerance tests were performed in mice after administration of selective GPR120 agonist Compound A. Insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin secretion were measured in static incubations of isolated mouse islets in response to endogenous (ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) and/or pharmacological (Compound A and AZ-13581837) GPR120 agonists. The effect of Compound A on hormone secretion was tested further in islets isolated from mice with global or somatostatin cell-specific knock-out of gpr120Gpr120 expression was assessed in pancreatic sections by RNA in situ hybridization. Cyclic AMP (cAMP) and calcium dynamics in response to pharmacological GPR120 agonists were measured specifically in α, β, and δ cells in intact islets using cAMPER and GCaMP6 reporter mice, respectively.


Acute exposure to Compound A increased glucose tolerance, circulating insulin, and glucagon levels in vivo. Endogenous and/or pharmacological GPR120 agonists reduced somatostatin secretion in isolated islets and concomitantly demonstrated dose-dependent potentiation of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and arginine-stimulated glucagon secretion. Gpr120 was enriched in δ cells. Pharmacological GPR120 agonists reduced cAMP and calcium levels in δ cells but increased these signals in α and β cells. Compound A-mediated inhibition of somatostatin secretion was insensitive to pertussis toxin. The effect of Compound A on hormone secretion was completely absent in islets from mice with either global or somatostatin cell-specific deletion of gpr120 and partially reduced upon blockade of somatostatin receptor signaling by cyclosomatostatin.


Inhibitory GPR120 signaling in δ cells contributes to both insulin and glucagon secretion in part by mitigating somatostatin release.