The cellular localization and regional distribution of insulin-and glucagonlike substance, C-peptide-like immunoreactivity, thiol:protein disulphide oxidoreductase, TPO (E.C.22.214.171.124.), and insulin/glucagon-specific proteinase, ISP (E.C.3.4.22.-), are studied in the CNS of man, adult and juvenile rats, mice, tortoises, and frogs by use of immunohistochemistry. Furthermore, the content of immunoreactive insulin, glucagon, and C-peptide was estimated in human cadaver brains by radioimmunoassay.
It could be shown that insulinlike immunoreactive material is widely distributed in the human brain and the CNS of juvenile rats as well as in mice, whereas in the CNS of adult rats and nonmammalian animals (frog, tortoises) the polypeptide is restricted to a few nerve cell populations. C-peptide immunoreactivity was demonstrated in human CNS in the same nerve cells as insulin.
By use of two different glucagon-antisera it was revealed that gut-type glucagon occurs in many nerve cells of human and mouse brains, as well as in the CNS of juvenile rats. On the other hand, pancreas-type glucagon was less widely distributed in the human brain and nearly not detectable in the CNS of mice and rats.
With the exception of neurosecretory nerve cells, there was a high degree of coincidence between the localization of insulin and TPO. The immunoreaction against the ISP antiserum was weak, but correlated well with the distribution of insulin-immunoreactivity.
The occurrence of TPO and ISP in the brain demonstrates the ability of nervous tissue to degrade insulin and glucagon. By radioimmunoassay it was established that human brain contains insulin, glucagon and C-peptide at concentrations that exceed blood levels.
We conclude from our data that, at least in part, cerebral insulin and glucagon are products of the brain itself.