Complex bursting in pancreatic islets: a potential glycolytic mechanism

Keola Wierschem, Richard Bertram

The electrical activity of insulin-secreting pancreatic islets of Langerhans is characterized by bursts of action potentials. Most often this bursting is periodic, but in some cases it is modulated by an underlying slower rhythm. We suggest that the modulatory rhythm for this complex bursting pattern is due to oscillations in glycolysis, while the bursting itself is generated by some other slow process. To demonstrate this hypothesis, we couple a minimal model of glycolytic oscillations to a minimal model for activity-dependent bursting in islets. We show that the combined model can reproduce several complex bursting patterns from mouse islets published in the literature, and we illustrate how these complex oscillations are produced through the use of a fast/slow analysis.