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Susceptibility during fasting has been reported for the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), to the point of untimely deaths after only 2-3 nights of fasting. To investigate the underlying physiology of this critical metabolic condition, we analyzed serum insulin levels, pancreatic islets morphometry and immunocytochemistry (ICC), static insulin secretion in pancreas fragments, and insulin signaling mechanism in male vampire bats. A glucose tolerance test (ipGTT) was also performed. Serum insulin was found to be lower in fed vampires compared to other mammals, and was significantly reduced after 24h fasting. Morphometrical analyses revealed small irregular pancreatic islets with reduced percentage of β-cell mass compared to other bats. Static insulin secretion analysis showed that glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was impaired, as insulin levels did not reach significance under high glucose concentrations, whereas the response to the amino acid leucin was preserved. Results from ipGTT showed a failure on glucose clearance, indicating glucose intolerance due to diminished pancreatic insulin secretion and/or decreased β-cell response to glucose. In conclusion, data presented here indicate lower insulinemia and impaired insulin secretion in D. rotundus, which is consistent with the limited ability to store body energy reserves, previously reported in these animals. Whether these metabolic and hormonal features are associated with their blood diet remains to be determined. The peculiar food sharing through blood regurgitation, reported to this species, might be an adaptive mechanism overcoming this metabolic susceptibility. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Mariella B Freitas, Joicy F Queiroz, Carolinne I Dias Gomes, Carla B Collares-Buzato, Helena C Barbosa, Antonio C Boschero, Carlos A Gonçalves, Eliana C Pinheiro. Reduced insulin secretion and glucose intolerance are involved in the fasting susceptibility of common vampire bats. General and comparative endocrinology. 2013 Mar 1;183:1-6

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PMID: 23262275

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