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Thomas H Claus, Clark Q Pan, Joanne M Buxton, Ling Yang, Jennifer C Reynolds, Nicole Barucci, Michael Burns, Astrid A Ortiz, Steve Roczniak, James N Livingston, Kevin B Clairmont, and James P Whelan

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by reduced insulin secretion from the pancreas and overproduction of glucose by the liver. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) promotes glucose-dependent insulin secretion from the pancreas, while glucagon promotes glucose output from the liver. Taking advantage of the homology between GLP-1 and glucagon, a GLP-1/glucagon hybrid peptide, dual-acting peptide for diabetes (DAPD), was identified with combined GLP-1 receptor agonist and glucagon receptor antagonist activity. To overcome its short plasma half-life DAPD was PEGylated, resulting in dramatically prolonged activity in vivo. PEGylated DAPD (PEG-DAPD) increases insulin and decreases glucose in a glucose tolerance test, evidence of GLP-1 receptor agonism. It also reduces blood glucose following a glucagon challenge and elevates fasting glucagon levels in mice, evidence of glucagon receptor antagonism. The PEG-DAPD effects on glucose tolerance are also observed in the presence of the GLP-1 antagonist peptide, exendin(9–39). An antidiabetic effect of PEG-DAPD is observed in db/db mice. Furthermore, PEGylation of DAPD eliminates the inhibition of gastrointestinal motility observed with GLP-1 and its analogues. Thus, PEG-DAPD has the potential to be developed as a novel dual-acting peptide to treat type 2 diabetes, with prolonged in vivo activity, and without the GI side-effects.

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Yoko Fujiwara, Masami Hiroyama, Atsushi Sanbe, Junji Yamauchi, Gozoh Tsujimoto, and Akito Tanoue

[Arg8]-vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OT) are neurohypophysial hormones which exert various actions, including the control of blood glucose, in some peripheral tissues. To investigate the type of receptors involved in AVP- and OT-induced glucagon secretion, we investigated the effect of these peptides on glucagon secretion in islets of wild-type (V1bR+/+) and vasopressin V1b receptor knockout (V1bR/−) mice. AVP-induced glucagon secretion was significantly inhibited by the selective V1b receptor antagonist, SSR149415 (30%), and OT-induced glucagon secretion by the specific OT receptor antagonist, d(CH2)5[Tyr(Me)2, Thr4, Tyr-NH2 9]OVT (CL-14-26) (45%), in islets of V1bR+/+mice. AVP- and OT-induced glucagon secretions were not by the antagonist of each, but co-incubation with both 10−6 M SSR149415 and 10−6 M CL-14-26 further inhibited AVP- and OT-induced glucagon secretions in islets of V1bR+/+ mice (57 and 69% of the stimulation values respectively). In addition, both AVP and OT stimulated glucagon secretion with the same efficacy in V1bR/− mice as in V1bR+/+ mice. AVP- and OT-induced glucagon secretion in V1bR/− mice was significantly inhibited by CL-14-26. These results demonstrate that V1b receptors can mediate OT-induced glucagon secretion and OT receptors can mediate AVP-induced glucagon secretion in islets from V1bR+/+mice in the presence of a heterologous antagonist, while AVP and OT can stimulate glucagon secretion through the OT receptors in V1bR/−mice, suggesting that the other receptor can compensate when one receptor is absent.

Free access

L M McShane, N Irwin, D O’Flynn, Z J Franklin, C M Hewage, and F P M O’Harte

Ablation of glucagon receptor signaling represents a potential treatment option for type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Additionally, activation of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) receptor signaling also holds therapeutic promise for T2DM. Therefore, this study examined both independent and combined metabolic actions of desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon (glucagon receptor antagonist) and d-Ala2GIP (GIP receptor agonist) in diet-induced obese mice. Glucagon receptor binding has been linked to alpha-helical structure and desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon displayed enhanced alpha-helical content compared with native glucagon. In clonal pancreatic BRIN-BD11 beta-cells, desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon was devoid of any insulinotropic or cAMP-generating actions, and did not impede d-Ala2GIP-mediated (P<0.01 to P<0.001) effects on insulin and cAMP production. Twice-daily injection of desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon or d-Ala2GIP alone, and in combination, in high-fat-fed mice failed to affect body weight or energy intake. Circulating blood glucose levels were significantly (P<0.05 to P<0.01) decreased by all treatments regimens, with plasma and pancreatic insulin elevated (P<0.05 to P<0.001) in all mice receiving d-Ala2GIP. Interestingly, plasma glucagon concentrations were decreased (P<0.05) by sustained glucagon inhibition (day 28), but increased (P<0.05) by d-Ala2GIP therapy, with a combined treatment resulting in glucagon concentration similar to saline controls. All treatments improved (P<0.01) intraperitoneal and oral glucose tolerance, and peripheral insulin sensitivity. d-Ala2GIP-treated mice showed increased glucose-induced insulin secretion in response to intraperitoneal and oral glucose. Metabolic rate and ambulatory locomotor activity were increased (P<0.05 to P<0.001) in all desHis1Pro4Glu9(Lys12PAL)-glucagon-treated mice. These studies highlight the potential of glucagon receptor inhibition alone, and in combination with GIP receptor activation, for T2DM treatment.

Free access

Linda Ahlkvist, Bilal Omar, Anders Valeur, Keld Fosgerau, and Bo Ahrén

Stimulation of insulin secretion by short-term glucagon receptor (GCGR) activation is well characterized; however, the effect of long-term GCGR activation on β-cell function is not known, but of interest, since hyperglucagonemia occurs early during development of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, we examined whether chronic GCGR activation affects insulin secretion in glucose intolerant mice. To induce chronic GCGR activation, high-fat diet fed mice were continuously (2 weeks) infused with the stable glucagon analog ZP-GA-1 and challenged with oral glucose and intravenous glucose±glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1). Islets were isolated to evaluate the insulin secretory response to glucose±GLP1 and their pancreas were collected for immunohistochemical analysis. Two weeks of ZP-GA-1 infusion reduced insulin secretion both after oral and intravenous glucose challenges in vivo and in isolated islets. These inhibitory effects were corrected for by GLP1. Also, we observed increased β-cell area and islet size. We conclude that induction of chronic ZP-GA-1 levels in glucose intolerant mice markedly reduces insulin secretion, and thus, we suggest that chronic activation of the GCGR may contribute to the failure of β-cell function during development of type 2 diabetes.

Free access

Birgitte N Friedrichsen, Nicole Neubauer, Ying C Lee, Vivian K Gram, Niels Blume, Jacob S Petersen, Jens H Nielsen, and Annette Møldrup

The incretin hormones, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP), have been suggested to act as β-cell growth factors and may therefore be of critical importance for the maintenance of a proper β-cell mass. We have investigated the molecular mechanism of incretin-induced β-cell replication in primary monolayer cultures of newborn rat islet cells. GLP-1, GIP and the long-acting GLP-1 derivative, lira-glutide, increased β-cell replication 50–80% at 10–100 nM upon a 24 h stimulus, whereas glucagon at a similar concentration had no significant effect. The stimulatory effect of GLP-1 and GIP was efficiently mimicked by the adenylate cyclase activator, forskolin, at 10 nM (~90% increase) and was additive (~170–250% increase) with the growth response to human growth hormone (hGH), indicating the use of distinct intracellular signalling pathways leading to mitosis by incretins and cytokines, respectively. The response to both GLP-1 and GIP was completely blocked by the protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor, H89. In addition, the phosphoinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor wortmannin and the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibitor PD98059, both inhibited GLP-1- and GIP-stimulated proliferation. The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor, SB203580, had no inhibitory effect on either GLP-1 or GIP stimulated proliferation. Cyclin Ds act as molecular switches for the G0/G1-S phase transition in many cell types and we have previously demonstrated hGH-induced cyclin D2 expression in the insulinoma cell line, INS-1. GLP-1 time-dependently induced the cyclin D1 mRNA and protein levels in INS-1E, whereas the cyclin D2 levels were unaffected. However, minor effect of GLP-1 stimulation was observed on the cyclin D3 mRNA levels. Transient transfection of a cyclin D1 promoter-luciferase reporter construct into islet monolayer cells or INS-1 cells revealed approximately a 2–3 fold increase of transcriptional activity in response to GLP-1 and GIP, and a 4–7 fold increase in response to forskolin. However, treatment of either cell type with hGH had no effect on cyclin D1 promoter activity. The stimulation of the cyclin D1 promoter by GLP-1 was inhibited by H89, wortmannin, and PD98059. We conclude that incretin-induced β-cell replication is dependent on cAMP/PKA, p42 MAPK and PI3K activities, which may involve transcriptional induction of cyclin D1. GLP-1, GIP and liraglutide may have the potential to increase β-cell replication in humans which would have significant impact on long-term diabetes treatment.

Free access

N M Whalley, L E Pritchard, D M Smith, and A White

Proglucagon is cleaved to glucagon by prohormone convertase 2 (PC2) in pancreatic α-cells, but is cleaved to glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) by PC1 in intestinal L-cells. The aim of this study was to identify mechanisms which switch processing of proglucagon to generate GLP-1 in the pancreas, given that GLP-1 can increase insulin secretion and β-cell mass. The α-cell line, αTC1-6, expressed PC1 at low levels and GLP-1 was detected in cells and in culture media. GLP-1 was also found in isolated human islets and in rat islets cultured for 7 days. High glucose concentrations increased Pc1 gene expression and PC1 protein in rat islets. High glucose (25 mM) also increased GLP-1 but decreased glucagon secretion from αTC1-6 cells suggesting a switch in processing to favour GLP-1. Three G protein-coupled receptors, GPR120, TGR5 and GPR119, implicated in the release of GLP-1 from L-cells are expressed in αTC1-6 cells. Incubation of these cells with an agonist of TGR5 increased PC1 promoter activity and GLP-1 secretion suggesting that this is a mechanism for switching processing to GLP-1 in the pancreas. Treatment of isolated rat islets with streptozotocin caused β-cell toxicity as evidenced by decreased glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. This increased GLP-1 but not glucagon in the islets. In summary, proglucagon can be processed to GLP-1 in pancreatic cells. This process is upregulated by elevated glucose, activation of TGR5 and β-cell destruction. Understanding this phenomenon may lead to advances in therapies to protect β-cell mass, and thereby slow progression from insulin resistance to type 2 diabetes.

Free access

Weiwei Xu, Jamie Morford, and Franck Mauvais-Jarvis

One of the most sexually dimorphic aspects of metabolic regulation is the bidirectional modulation of glucose homeostasis by testosterone in male and females. Severe testosterone deficiency predisposes men to type 2 diabetes (T2D), while in contrast, androgen excess predisposes women to hyperglycemia. The role of androgen deficiency and excess in promoting visceral obesity and insulin resistance in men and women respectively is well established. However, although it is established that hyperglycemia requires β cell dysfunction to develop, the role of testosterone in β cell function is less understood. This review discusses recent evidence that the androgen receptor (AR) is present in male and female β cells. In males, testosterone action on AR in β cells enhances glucose-stimulated insulin secretion by potentiating the insulinotropic action of glucagon-like peptide-1. In females, excess testosterone action via AR in β cells promotes insulin hypersecretion leading to oxidative injury, which in turn predisposes to T2D.

Free access

Yoko Yagishita, Akira Uruno, Dionysios V Chartoumpekis, Thomas W Kensler, and Masayuki Yamamoto

The transcription factor Nrf2 (NF-E2-related factor 2) plays a critical role in oxidative stress responses. Although activation of Nrf2 signaling is known to exert anti-inflammatory effects, the function of Nrf2 in inflammation-mediated autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes, is not well established. To address the roles of Nrf2 in protection against autoreactive T-cell-induced type 1 diabetes, we used non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice, which are a polygenic model of human type 1 diabetes, to generate a genetic model for assessment of the contribution of Nrf2 activation to prevention and/or treatment of type 1 diabetes. Because Keap1 (Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1) negatively regulates Nrf2, we used Keap1 gene knockdown driven by either hypomorphic or knockout Keap1 alleles, which enhanced Nrf2 signaling to moderate or excess levels, respectively. Nrf2 activation in the NOD::Keap1 FA/ mice inhibited T-cell infiltration within or near the islets, ameliorated impairment of insulin secretion and prevented the development of diabetes mellitus. Notably, Nrf2 activation decreased both the plasma interferon-γ (IFN-γ) levels and the IFN-γ-positive cell numbers in the pancreatic islets. The amelioration of diabetes was also observed in the NOD mice with two hypomorphic Keap1 alleles (Keap1 FA/FA) by intermediate activation of Nrf2. Both NOD::Keap1 FA/ and NOD::Keap1 FA/FA mice had a decreased incidence of diabetes mellitus, demonstrating that activation of Nrf2 signaling prevented the onset of type 1 diabetes mellitus in NOD mice. Thus, Nrf2 appears to be a potential target for the prevention and treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Restricted access

Olena A Fedorenko, Pawitra Pulbutr, Elin Banke, Nneoma E Akaniro-Ejim, Donna C Bentley, Charlotta S Olofsson, Sue Chan, and Paul A Smith

L-type channel antagonists are of therapeutic benefit in the treatment of hyperlipidaemia and insulin resistance. Our aim was to identify L-type voltage-gated Ca2+ channels in white fat adipocytes, and determine if they affect intracellular Ca2+, lipolysis and lipogenesis. We used a multidisciplinary approach of molecular biology, confocal microscopy, Ca2+ imaging and metabolic assays to explore this problem using adipocytes isolated from adult rat epididymal fat pads. CaV1.2, CaV1.3 and CaV1.1 alpha1, beta and alpha2delta subunits were detected at the gene expression level. The CaV1.2 and CaV1.3 alpha1 subunits were identified in the plasma membrane at the protein level. Confocal microscopy with fluorescent antibodies labelled CaV1.2 in the plasma membrane. Ca2+ imaging revealed that the intracellular Ca2+ concentration, [Ca2 +]i was reversibly decreased by removal of extracellular Ca2+, an effect mimicked by verapamil, nifedipine and Co2+, all blockers of L-type channels, whereas the Ca2+ channel agonist BAY-K8644 increased [Ca2+]i. The finding that the magnitude of these effects correlated with basal [Ca2+]i suggests that adipocyte [Ca2+]i is controlled by L-type Ca2+ channels that are constitutively active at the adipocyte depolarized membrane potential. Pharmacological manipulation of L-type channel activity modulated both basal and catecholamine-stimulated lipolysis but not insulin-induced glucose uptake or lipogenesis. We conclude that white adipocytes have constitutively active L-type Ca2+ channels which explains their sensitivity of lipolysis to Ca2+ channel modulators. Our data suggest CaV1.2 as a potential novel therapeutic target in the treatment of obesity.

Free access

Tianru Jin

The proglucagon gene (gcg) encodes a number of peptide hormones that are of cell-type specifically expressed in the pancreatic islets, the distal ileum and the large intestine, as well as certain brain neuronal cells. These hormones are important in controlling blood glucose homeostasis, intestinal cell proliferation, and satiety. More importantly, the major hormone generated in the pancreas (i.e. glucagon) exerts opposite effects to the ones that are produced in the intestines (i.e. glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and GLP-2). To understand the mechanisms underlying cell-type-specific gcg expression may lead to the identification of novel drug targets to control endogenous hormone production for therapeutic purposes. Extensive in vitro examinations have shown that more than a half dozen of homeodomain (HD) proteins are able to interact with the gcg gene promoter and activate its expression. In vivo ‘knock-out’ mouse studies, however, cannot demonstrate the role of some of them (i.e. Cdx-2, Brn-4, and Nkx6.2) in the development of pancreatic islet α-cells, suggesting that these HD proteins may exert some redundant functions in the genesis of gcg-producing cells. Investigations have also revealed that gcg expression is controlled by both protein kinase A and Epac signaling pathways in response to cAMP elevation, and cell-type specifically controlled by insulin and the effectors of the Wnt signaling pathway. This review summarizes our current understanding on the mechanisms underlying gcg transcription and presented my interpretations on how the interactions between different signaling networks regulate gcg expression.