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Bernadette M Trojanowski, Heba H Salem, Heike Neubauer, Eric Simon, Martin Wagner, Rajkumar Dorajoo, Bernhard O Boehm, Leticia Labriola, Thomas Wirth and Bernd Baumann

Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is a group of monogenetic forms of diabetes mellitus caused by mutations in genes regulating β-cell development and function. MODY represents a heterogeneous group of non-insulin-dependent diabetes arising in childhood or adult life. Interestingly, clinical heterogeneity in MODY patients like variable disease onset and severity is observed even among individual family members sharing the same mutation, an issue that is not well understood. As high blood glucose levels are a well-known factor promoting β-cell stress and ultimately leading to cell death, we asked whether additional β-cell stress might account for the occurrence of disease heterogeneity in mice carrying a MODY4 mutation. In order to challenge β-cells, we established a MODY4 animal model based on Pdx1 (pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1) haploinsufficiency, which allows conditional modulation of cell stress by genetic inhibition of the stress-responsive IKK/NF-κB signalling pathway. While Pdx1+/− mice were found glucose intolerant without progressing to diabetes, additional challenge of β-cell function by IKK/NF-κB inhibition promoted rapid diabetes development showing hyperglycaemia, hypoinsulinemia and loss of β-cell mass. Disease pathogenesis was characterized by deregulation of genes controlling β-cell homeostasis and function. Importantly, restoration of normal IKK/NF-κB signalling reverted the diabetic phenotype including normalization of glycaemia and β-cell mass. Our findings implicate that the avoidance of additional β-cell stress can delay a detrimental disease progression in MODY4 diabetes. Remarkably, an already present diabetic phenotype can be reversed when β-cell stress is normalized.

Free access

Silvya Stuchi Maria-Engler, Maria Lúcia C Corrêa-Giannella, Letícia Labriola, Karin Krogh, Christian Colin, Fernando Henrique Lojudice, Carlos Alberto Mayora Aita, Elizabeth Maria Costa de Oliveira, Tatiana C Silveira Corrêa, Irenice Cairo da Silva, Tercio Genzini, Marcelo Perosa de Miranda, Irene Lourdes Noronha, Luciano Vilela, Cassio Negro Coimbra, Renato A Mortara, Marcos Mares Guia, Freddy Goldberg Eliaschewitz and Mari Cleide Sogayar

Strategies to differentiate progenitor cells into β cells in vitro have been considered as an alternative to increase β cell availability prior to transplantation. It has recently been suggested that nestin-positive cells could be multipotential stem cells capable of expressing endocrine markers upon specific stimulation; however, this issue still remains controversial. Here, we characterized short- and long-term islet cell cultures derived from three different human islet preparations, with respect to expression of nestin and islet cell markers, using confocal microscopy and semi-quantitative RT-PCR. The number of nestin-positive cells was found to be strikingly high in long-term cultures. In addition, a large proportion (49.7%) of these nestin-positive cells, present in long-term culture, are shown to be proliferative, as judged by BrdU incorporation. The proportion of insulin-positive cells was found to be high in short-term (up to 28 days) cultures and declined thereafter, when cells were maintained in the presence of 10% serum, concomitantly with the decrease in insulin and PDX-1 expression. Interestingly, insulin and nestin co-expression was observed as a rare event in a small proportion of cells present in freshly isolated human islets as well as in purified islet cells cultured in vitro for long periods of time. In addition, upon long-term subculturing of nestin-positive cells in 10% serum, we observed reappearance of insulin expression at the mRNA level; when these cultures were shifted to 1% serum for a month, expression of insulin, glucagon and somatostatin was also detected, indicating that manipulating the culture conditions can be used to modulate the nestin-positive cell’s fate. Attempts to induce cell differentiation by plating nestin-positive cells onto Matrigel revealed that these cells tend to aggregate to form islet-like clusters, but this is not sufficient to increase insulin expression upon short-term culture. Our data corroborate previous findings indicating that, at least in vitro, nestin-positive cells may undergo the early stages of differentiation to an islet cell phenotype and that long-term cultures of nestin-positive human islet cells may be considered as a potential source of precursor cells to generate fully differentiated/ functional β cells.