Lactate activation of α-cell KATP channels inhibits glucagon secretion by hyperpolarizing the membrane potential and reducing Ca2+ entry

Karolina E. Zaborska, Prasanna K. Dadi, Matthew T. Dickerson, Arya Y. Nakhe, ... David A. Jacobson


Elevations in pancreatic α-cell intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) lead to glucagon (GCG) secretion. Although glucose inhibits GCG secretion, how lactate and pyruvate control α-cell Ca2+ handling is unknown. Lactate enters cells through monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) and is also produced during glycolysis by lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA), an enzyme expressed in α-cells. As lactate activates ATP-sensitive K+ (KATP) channels in cardiomyocytes, lactate may also modulate α-cell KATP. Therefore, this study investigated how lactate signalling controls α-cell Ca2+ handling and GCG secretion.


Mouse and human islets were used in combination with confocal microscopy, electrophysiology, GCG immunoassays, and fluorescent thallium flux assays to assess α-cell Ca2+ handling, Vm, KATP currents, and GCG secretion.


Lactate inhibited mouse (75±25%) and human (47±9%) α-cell [Ca2+]i fluctuations only under low glucose (1mM) conditions but had no effect on β- or δ-cell [Ca2+]i. Glyburide inhibition of KATP channels restored α-cell [Ca2+]i fluctuations in the presence of lactate. Lactate transport into α-cells, via MCTs, hyperpolarized mouse (14±1mV) and human (12±1mV) α-cell Vm and activated KATP channels. Interestingly, pyruvate showed a similar KATP activation profile and α-cell [Ca2+]iinhibition as lactate. Lactate-induced inhibition of α-cell [Ca2+]i influx resulted in reduced GCG secretion in mouse (62±6%) and human (43±13%) islets.


These data demonstrate for the first time that lactate entry into α-cells through MCTs results in KATP activation, Vm hyperpolarization, reduced [Ca2+]i and inhibition of GCG secretion. Thus, taken together these data illuminate that lactate either within α-cells and/or elevated in serum could serve as important modulators of α-cell function.