Ultra-structural study of insulin granules in pancreatic β-cells of db/db mouse by scanning transmission electron microscopy tomography
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- Xue, Y., Zhao, W., Du, W. et al. Protein Cell (2012) 3: 521. doi:10.1007/s13238-012-2937-1
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Insulin granule trafficking is a key step in the secretion of glucose-stimulated insulin from pancreatic β-cells. The main feature of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is the failure of pancreatic β-cells to secrete sufficient amounts of insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels. In this work, we developed and applied tomography based on scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) to image intact insulin granules in the β-cells of mouse pancreatic islets. Using three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction, we found decreases in both the number and the grey level of insulin granules in db/db mouse pancreatic β-cells. Moreover, insulin granules were closer to the plasma membrane in diabetic β-cells than in control cells. Thus, 3D ultra-structural tomography may provide new insights into the pathology of insulin secretion in T2D.