In cystic fibrosis (CF), ductal plugging and acinar loss result in rapid decline of exocrine pancreatic function. This destructive process results in remodeled islets, with only a modest reduction in insulin-producing β cells. However, β-cell function is profoundly impaired, with decreased insulin release and abnormal glucose tolerance being present even in infants with CF. Ultimately, roughly half the CF subjects develop diabetes (termed CF-related diabetes (CFRD)). Importantly, CFRD increases CF morbidity and mortality via worsening catabolism and pulmonary disease. Current accepted treatment options for CFRD are aimed at insulin replacement, thereby improving glycemia as well as preventing nutritional losses and lung decline. CFRD is a unique form of diabetes with a distinct pathophysiology that is as yet incompletely understood. Recent studies highlight emerging areas of interest. First, islet inflammation and lymphocyte infiltration are common even in young children with CF and may contribute to β-cell failure. Second, controversy exists in the literature regarding the presence/importance of β-cell intrinsic functions of CFTR and its direct role in modulating insulin release. Third, loss of the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) from pancreatic ductal epithelium, the predominant site of its synthesis, results in paracrine effects that impair insulin release. Finally, the degree of β-cell loss in CFRD does not appear sufficient to explain the deficit in insulin release. Thus, it may be possible to enhance the function of the remaining β-cells using strategies such as targeting islet inflammation or ductal CFTR deficiency to effectively treat or even prevent CFRD.
Andrew W Norris, Katie Larson Ode, Lina Merjaneh, Srinath Sanda, Yaling Yi, Xingshen Sun, John F Engelhardt and Rebecca L Hull
Kok Lim Kua, Shanming Hu, Chunlin Wang, Jianrong Yao, Diana Dang, Alexander B Sawatzke, Jeffrey L Segar, Kai Wang and Andrew W Norris
Offspring exposed in utero to maternal diabetes exhibit long-lasting insulin resistance, though the initiating mechanisms have received minimal experimental attention. Herein, we show that rat fetuses develop insulin resistance after only 2-day continuous exposure to isolated hyperglycemia starting on gestational day 18. Hyperglycemia-induced reductions in insulin-induced AKT phosphorylation localized primarily to fetal skeletal muscle. The skeletal muscle of hyperglycemia-exposed fetuses also exhibited impaired in vivo glucose uptake. To address longer term impacts of this short hyperglycemic exposure, neonates were cross-fostered and examined at 21 days postnatal age. Offspring formerly exposed to 2 days late gestation hyperglycemia exhibited mild glucose intolerance with insulin signaling defects localized only to skeletal muscle. Fetal hyperglycemic exposure has downstream consequences which include hyperinsulinemia and relative uteroplacental insufficiency. To determine whether these accounted for induction of insulin resistance, we examined fetuses exposed to late gestational isolated hyperinsulinemia or uterine artery ligation. Importantly, 2 days of fetal hyperinsulinemia did not impair insulin signaling in murine fetal tissues and 21-day-old offspring exposed to fetal hyperinsulinemia had normal glucose tolerance. Similarly, fetal exposure to 2-day uteroplacental insufficiency did not perturb insulin-stimulated AKT phosphorylation in fetal rats. We conclude that fetal exposure to hyperglycemia acutely produces insulin resistance. As hyperinsulinemia and placental insufficiency have no such impact, this occurs likely via direct tissue effects of hyperglycemia. Furthermore, these findings show that skeletal muscle is uniquely susceptible to immediate and persistent insulin resistance induced by hyperglycemia.