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D. Janjic and M. Asfari


To investigate further the role of cytokines in the pathogenesis of type I insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, the effects of interleukin-1β (IL-1), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF) and γ-interferon (IFN) were tested on rat insulinoma INS-1 cells. Whereas TNF and IFN had, respectively, a minor or no effect on insulin production, IL-1 caused a time- and dose-dependent decrease in insulin release and lowered the insulin content as well as the preproinsulin mRNA content of INS-1 cells. Both IL-1 and TNF exerted a cytostatic effect, estimated by a decrease in [3H]thymidine incorporation, while only IL-1 decreased cell viability as measured by the colorimetric 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) test.

The glutathione content of INS-1 cells was shown to be modulated by the presence of 2-mercaptoethanol in the culture medium, but was not affected by IL-1 or TNF.

In conclusion, INS-1 cell culture is considered to be a useful model for studying the effect of cytokines on insulin-producing cells. The differentiated features of these cells will permit several questions to be addressed regarding the mechanism of action of IL-1 and eventually other cytokines, both at the level of gene expression and of intracellular signalling.

Journal of Endocrinology (1992) 132, 67–76

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Sandra K Szlapinski, Anthony A Botros, Sarah Donegan, Renee T King, Gabrielle Retta, Brenda J Strutt and David J Hill

Gestational diabetes mellitus increases the risk of dysglycemia postpartum, in part, due to pancreatic β-cell dysfunction. However, no histological evidence exists comparing endocrine pancreas after healthy and glucose-intolerant pregnancies. This study sought to address this knowledge gap, in addition to exploring the contribution of an inflammatory environment to changes in endocrine pancreas after parturition. We used a previously established mouse model of gestational glucose intolerance induced by dietary low protein insult from conception until weaning. Pancreas and adipose samples were collected at 7, 30 and 90 days postpartum for histomorphometric and cytokine analyses, respectively. Glucose tolerance tests were performed prior to euthanasia and blood was collected via cardiac puncture. Pregnant female mice born to dams fed a low protein diet previously shown to develop glucose intolerance at late gestation relative to controls continued to be glucose intolerant until 1 month postpartum. However, glucose tolerance normalized by 3 months postpartum. Glucose intolerance at 7 days postpartum was associated with lower beta- and alpha-cell fractional areas and higher adipose levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-6. By 3 months postpartum, a compensatory increase in the number of small islets and a higher insulin to glucagon ratio likely enabled euglycemia to be attained in the previously glucose-intolerant mice. The results show that impairments in endocrine pancreas compensation in hyperglycemic pregnancy persist after parturition and contribute to prolonged glucose intolerance. These impairments may increase the susceptibility to development of future type 2 diabetes.

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GE Rice, MH Wong, W Farrugia and KF Scott

Although phospholipase A2 (PLA2) enzymatic activities have been implicated in the regulation of phospholipid metabolism and eicosanoid formation in human gestational tissues, the role and contribution made by individual PLA2 isozymes has not been established. The aim of this study, therefore, was to determine the contribution made by Type II PLA2 to PLA2 enzymatic activity present in human term placenta. The experimental paradigm used to establish the contribution made by Type II PLA2 to total in vitro PLA2 enzymatic activity present in placental extracts was to remove Type II PLA2 by immunoaffinity extraction and then to quantify residual PLA2 enzymatic activity. Before immunoaffinity extraction, Type II PLA2 immunoactivity and total PLA2 enzymatic activity present in placental extracts averaged 28.0 +/- 10.0 ng/mg protein and 1040 +/- 367 pmol/h per mg protein (n = 3) respectively. After solid-phase immunoaffinity batch extraction of placental extracts, immunoreactive Type II PLA2 was not detectable by ELISA, and PLA2 enzymatic activity was decreased by 82 +/- 1% (P < 0.001). Residual (i.e. non-Type II) PLA2 enzymatic activity was further characterised by Western blot analysis and enzyme activity assay. The data obtained are consistent with a contribution by both cytosolic PLA2 and other secretory PLA2 isozymes (i.e. non-Type II) to residual PLA2 enzymatic activity. The results obtained in this study support the conclusion that Type II PLA2 is quantitatively the primary PLA2 isozyme that contributes to in vitro PLA2 enzymatic activity present in extracts of human term placenta, accounting for at least 80% of total activity. These data further support the involvement of this extracellularly active isozyme in the regulation of placental phospholipid metabolism and eicosanoid formation during late gestation.

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S. J. Winder, S. D. Wheatley and I. A. Forsyth


Sucrose density centrifugation was used to prepare a partially purified membrane fraction from the mammary glands of non-pregnant, pregnant and lactating sheep. The binding of125 I-labelled insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) was dependent on membrane protein concentration, pH, time and temperature. The binding showed the characteristics of a type-1 IGF receptor, being displaced by IGF-I (median effective dose (ED50) 0·55 nmol/l), less effectively by IGF-II (ED50 8·8 nmol/l) and least effectively by insulin. Glucagon, ovine prolactin and ovine placental lactogen could not displace binding. A molecular weight of 135 000 was determined by affinity cross-linking using disuccinimidyl suberate; this was consistent with the reported size of the type-1 receptor α-subunit. Scatchard analysis was used to determine binding affinity and numbers of IGF-I-binding sites. A single class of high-affinity binding sites was found in all physiological states. In non-pregnant sheep and sheep at days 40, 75 and 110–120 of pregnancy and at term, the binding affinity was similar (apparent dissociation constant (K d) 2·73 ±0·31 nmol/l, n = 22). In lactating sheep (weeks 1, 4 and 10), the binding affinity was significantly (P = 0·02) higher (K d 0·77± 0·06 nmol/l n = 9). Binding capacity was similar in non-pregnant and pregnant sheep (1005 ± 113 fmol/mg, n = 19), but fell by parturition and remained low in lactation (570±52 fmol/mg membrane protein, n = 12). The results suggest that the mammary growth of pregnancy is not regulated at the level of the type-1 IGF receptor.

Journal of Endocrinology (1993) 136, 297–304

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Zhenping Liu, Per Bendix Jeppesen, Søren Gregersen, Lotte Bach Larsen and Kjeld Hermansen

Chronic hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia cause deleterious effects on β-cell function. Interestingly, increased circulating amino acid (AA) levels are also a characteristic of the prediabetic and diabetic state. The chronic effects of AAs on β-cell function remain to be determined. Isolated mouse islets and INS-1E cells were incubated with or without excess leucine. After 72 h, leucine increased basal insulin secretion and impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in both mouse islets and INS-1E cells, corroborating the existence of aminoacidotoxicity-induced β-cell dysfunction. This took place concomitantly with alterations in proteins and genes involved in insulin granule transport, trafficking (e.g. collapsin response mediator protein 2 and GTP-binding nuclear protein Ran), insulin signal transduction (proteasome subunit α type 6), and the oxidative phosphorylation pathway (cytochrome c oxidase). Leucine downregulated insulin 1 gene expression but upregulated pancreas duodenum homeobox 1 and insulin 2 mRNA expressions. Importantly, cholesterol (CH) accumulated in INS-1E cells concomitantly with upregulation of enzymes involved in CH biosynthesis (e.g. 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase, mevalonate (diphospho) decarboxylase, and squalene epoxidase) and LDL receptor, whereas triglyceride content was decreased. Our findings indicate that chronic exposure to elevated levels of leucine may have detrimental effects on both β-cell function and insulin sensitivity. Aminoacidotoxicity may play a pathogenic role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

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TY Tai, JY Lu, CL Chen, MY Lai, PJ Chen, JH Kao, CZ Lee, HS Lee, LM Chuang and YM Jeng

This study aimed at elucidating the effects of interferon (IFN)-alpha on glucose metabolism in patients with chronic hepatitis B and C infections. Twenty-eight biopsy-proven patients with chronic hepatitis B (ten cases) and hepatitis C (18 cases) were given IFN-alpha for a total of 24 weeks. The patients received a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), glucagon stimulation test, tests for type 1 diabetes-related autoantibodies and an insulin suppression test before and after IFN-alpha therapy. Ten of the 28 patients responded to IFN-alpha therapy. Steady-state plasma glucose of the insulin suppression test decreased significantly in responders (13.32+/-1.48 (S.E.M.) vs 11.33+/-1.19 mmol/l, P=0.0501) but not in non-responders (12.29+/-1.24 vs 11.11+/-0.99 mmol/l, P=0.2110) immediately after completion of IFN-alpha treatment. In the oral glucose tolerance test, no significant difference was observed in plasma glucose in either responders (10.17+/-0.23 vs 10.03+/-0.22 mmol/l) or non-responders (10.11+/-0.22 vs 9.97+/-0.21 mmol/l) 3 Months after completion of IFN-alpha treatment. However, significant differences were noted in C-peptide in both responders (2.90+/-0.13 vs 2.20+/-0.09 nmol/l, P=0.0040) and non-responders (2.45+/-0.11 vs 2.22+/-0.08 nmol/l, P=0.0287) before vs after treatment. The changes of C-peptide in an OGTT between responders and non-responders were also significantly different (P=0.0028), with responders reporting a greater reduction in C-peptide. No case developed autoantibodies during the treatment. In patients who were successfully treated with IFN-alpha, insulin sensitivity improved and their plasma glucose stayed at the same level without secreting as much insulin from islet beta-cells.

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J Han and Y Q Liu

Pyruvate carboxylase (PC) activity is enhanced in the islets of obese rats, but it is reduced in the islets of type 2 diabetic rats, suggesting the importance of PC in β-cell adaptation to insulin resistance as well as the possibility that PC reduction might lead to hyperglycemia. However, the causality is currently unknown. We used obese Agouti mice (AyL) as a model to show enhanced β-cell adaptation, and type 2 diabetic db/db mice as a model to show severe β-cell failure. After comparison of the two models, a less severe type 2 diabetic Agouti-K (AyK) mouse model was used to show the changes in islet PC activity during the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). AyK mice were separated into two groups: mildly (AyK-M, blood glucose <250 mg/dl) and severely (AyK-S, blood glucose >250 mg/dl) hyperglycemic. Islet PC activity, but not protein level, was increased 1.7-fold in AyK-M mice; in AyK-S mice, islet PC activity and protein level were reduced. All other changes including insulin secretion and islet morphology in AyK-M mice were similar to those observed in AyL mice, but they were worse in AyK-S mice where these parameters closely matched those in db/db mice. In 2-day treated islets, PC activity was inhibited by high glucose but not by palmitate. Our findings suggest that islet PC might play a role in the development of T2DM where reduction of PC activity might be a consequence of mild hyperglycemia and a cause for severe hyperglycemia.

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R. C. Bonney, S. T. Qizilbash and S. Franks


The inhibition of endometrial phospholipase A2 activity by the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents mefenamic acid and indomethacin was studied over the concentration range 1 mmol/l–0·1 μmol/l. Both phospholipase A2 type 1 (a calcium-dependent enzyme) and phospholipase A2 type 2 (a calciumindependent enzyme) were inhibited by mefenamic acid, but the magnitude of the inhibition was dependent on calcium concentration. Phospholipase A2 type 1 was inhibited 50% by 10 μmol mefenamic acid/1 in the presence of 1·25–5 mmol calcium/l, but a concentration of 2·2 mmol mefenamic acid/l was required for 50% inhibition in the absence of calcium. On the other hand, phospholipase A2 type 2 was inhibited 50% by 22 μmol mefenamic acid/1 in the absence of calcium and by 100 μmol mefenamic acid/l in the presence of calcium (2·5 mmol/l). Although indomethacin was a less effective inhibitor of phospholipase A2 activity, a similar relationship with calcium was demonstrated. However, indomethacin also had a stimulatory effect on phospholipase A2 type 1 activity in the absence of calcium. Our findings suggest that the two endometrial enzymes may be inhibited by different mechanisms and that the dependence of the enzyme on calcium for activation may be a contributing factor.

J. Endocr. (1988) 119, 141–145

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A Alidibbiat, C E Marriott, K T Scougall, S C Campbell, G C Huang, W M Macfarlane and J A M Shaw

Generation of new β-cells from the adult pancreas or the embryonic stem cells is being pursued by research groups worldwide. Success will be dependent on confirmation of true β-cell phenotype evidenced by capacity to process and store proinsulin. The aim of these studies was to robustly determine endocrine characteristics of the AR42J rat pancreatic acinar cell line before and after in vitro transdifferentiation. β-cell phenotypic marker expression was characterised by RT-PCR, immunostaining, western blotting, ELISA and in human preproinsulin transgene over-expression studies in wild-type AR42J cells and after culture on Matrigel basement membrane matrix with and without growth/differentiation factor supplementation. Pancreatic duodenal homeobox 1 (PDX1), forkhead box transcription factor a2 (Foxa2), glucokinase, pancreatic polypeptide and low-level insulin gene transcription in wild-type AR42J cells were confirmed by RT-PCR. Culture on Matrigel-coated plates and supplementation of medium with glucagon-like peptide 1 induced expression of the β-cell Glut 2 with maintained expression of insulin and PDX1. Increased biosynthesis and secretion of proinsulin were confirmed by immunocytochemical staining and sensitive ELISA. Absence of the regulated secretory pathway was demonstrated by undetectable prohormone convertase expression. In addition, inability to process and store endogenous proinsulin or human proinsulin translated from a constitutively over-expressed preproinsulin transgene was confirmed. The importance of robust phenotypic characterisation at the protein level in attempted β-cell transdifferentiation studies has been confirmed. Rodent and human sensitive/specific differential proinsulin/insulin ELISA in combination with human preproinsulin over-expression enables detailed elucidatation of core endocrine functions of proinsulin processing and storage in putative new β-cells.

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Jennifer A Crookshank, Daniel Serrano, Gen-Sheng Wang, Christopher Patrick, Baylie S Morgan, Marie-France Paré and Fraser W Scott

It is unknown whether there is a gene signature in pancreas which is associated with type 1 diabetes (T1D). We performed partial pancreatectomies on 30-day preinsulitic, diabetes-prone BioBreeding (BBdp) rats to prospectively identify factors involved in early prediabetes. Microarrays of the biopsies revealed downregulation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, metabolism and apoptosis. Based on these results, additional investigations compared gene expression in control (BBc) and BBdp rats age ~8, 30 and 60 days using RT-qPCR. Neonates had increased ER stress gene expression in pancreas. This was associated with decreased insulin, cleaved caspase-3 and Ins1 whereas Gcg and Pcsk2 were increased. The increase in ER stress was not sustained at 30 days and decreased by 60 days. In parallel, the liver gene profile showed a similar signature in neonates but with an early decrease of the unfolded protein response (UPR) at 30 days. This suggested that changes in the liver precede those in the pancreas. Tnf and Il1b expression was increased in BBdp pancreas in association with increased caspase-1, cleaved caspase-3 and decreased proinsulin area. Glucagon area was increased in both 30-day and 60-day BBdp rats. Increased colocalization of BIP and proinsulin was observed at 60 days in the pancreas, suggesting insulin-related ER dysfunction. We propose that dysregulated metabolism leads to ER stress in neonatal rats long before insulitis, creating a microenvironment in both pancreas and liver that promotes autoimmunity.