The non-steroidal compound STX modulates the hypothalamic control of core body temperature and energy homeostasis. The aim of this work was to study the potential effects of STX on pancreatic β-cell function. 1-10 nM STX produced an increase in glucose-induced insulin secretion in isolated islets from male mice, whereas it had no effect in islets from female mice. This insulinotropic effect of STX was abolished by the anti-estrogen ICI 182,780. STX increased intracellular calcium entry in both whole islets and isolated β-cells, and closed the K ATP channel, suggesting a direct effect on β-cells. When intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test was performed, a single dose of 100 μg/kg body weight STX improved glucose sensitivity in males, yet it had a slight effect on females. In agreement with the effect on isolated islets, 100 μg/kg dose of STX enhanced the plasma insulin increase in response to a glucose load, while it did not in females. Long-term treatment (100 μg/kg, 6 days) of male mice with STX did not alter body weight, fasting glucose, glucose sensitivity or islet insulin content. Ovariectomized females were insensitive to STX (100 μg/kg), after either an acute administration or a 6-day treatment. This long-term treatment was also ineffective in a mouse model of mild diabetes. Therefore, STX appears to have a gender-specific effect on blood glucose homeostasis, which is only manifested after an acute administration. The insulinotropic effect of STX in pancreatic β-cells is mediated by the closure of the K ATP channel and the increase in intracellular calcium concentration. The in vivo improvement in glucose tolerance appears to be mostly due to the enhancement of insulin secretion from β-cells.
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