• beta-cell;
  • development;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • innervation;
  • pancreas slice;
  • patch-clamp


Beta-cells in pancreatic islets form complex syncytia. Sufficient cell-to-cell electrical coupling seems to ensure coordinated depolarization pattern and insulin release that can be further modulated by rich innervation. The complex structure and coordinated action develop after birth during fast proliferation of the endocrine tissue. These emergent properties can be lost due to various reasons later in life and can lead to glucose intolerance and diabetes mellitus. Pancreas slice is a novel method of choice to study the physiology of beta-cells still embedded in their normal cellulo-social context. I present major advantages, list drawbacks and provide an overview on recent advances in our understanding of the physiology of beta-cells using the pancreas slice approach.