Experimental data suggest that a tissue reninangiotensin system is present in the pancreatic islets of several species, including man. However, the physiological role for this local renin-angiotensin system remains largely unknown. In vitro findings argue against a direct effect of angiotensin II on alpha- and beta-cells. In contrast, when the influence of angiotensin II on the pancreatic islets has been evaluated in the presence of an intact vascular system either in vivo or in the perfused pancreas, a suppression of insulin release has been observed, also in man. These discrepancies may be explained by the profound effects of the renin-angiotensin system on pancreatic islet blood perfusion. Alterations in the systemic renin-angiotensin system and an increased vascular sensitivity for its components have been observed in diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Whether changes occur also in the pancreatic islet renin-angiotensin system during these conditions remains unknown. Future research may help to provide an answer to this question, and to elucidate to what extent the renin-angiotensin system may contribute to beta-cell dysfunction in these diseases.
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