Peptide production and secretion in GLUTag, NCI-H716, and STC-1 cells: a comparison to native L-cells

    1. Jens Juul Holst1
    1. 1Department of Biomedical Sciences and NNF Center for Basic Metabolic Research, the Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
    2. 2Department of Clinical Biochemistry Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
    3. 3Cambridge Institute for Medical Research and MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to J J Holst; Email: jjholst{at}


    GLUTag, NCI-H716, and STC-1 are cell lines that are widely used to study mechanisms underlying secretion of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), but the extent to which they resemble native L-cells is unknown. We used validated immunoassays for 14 different hormones to analyze peptide content (lysis samples; n = 9 from different passage numbers) or peptide secretion in response to buffer (baseline), and after stimulation with 50 mM KCl or 10 mM glucose + 10 µM forskolin/3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (n = 6 also different passage numbers). All cell lines produced and processed proglucagon into GLP-1, GLP-2, glicentin, and oxyntomodulin in a pattern (prohormone convertase (PC)1/3 dependent) similar to that described for human gut. All three cell lines showed basal secretion of GLP-1 and GLP-2, which increased after stimulation. In contrast to freshly isolated murine L-cells, all cell lines also expressed PC2 and secreted large amounts of pancreatic glucagon. Neurotensin and somatostatin storage was low and secretion was not consistently increased by stimulation. STC-1 cells released more glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide than GLP-1 at baseline (P < 0.01) and KCl elevated its secretion (P < 0.05). Peptide YY, which normally co-localizes with GLP-1 in distal L-cells, was not detected in any of the cell lines. GLUTag and STC-1 cells also expressed vasoactive intestinal peptide, but none expressed pancreatic polypeptide or insulin. GLUTag contained and secreted large amounts of CCK, while NCI-H716 did not store this peptide and STC-1 contained low amounts. Our results show that hormone production in cell line models of the L-cell has limited similarity to the natural L-cells.

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