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EM Caraher, SJ Conroy, and P Newsholme

In this paper we report the concentration of terminal complement complexes (TCCs, SC5b-9, an index of complement activation) in newly diagnosed insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) patient serum and normal human serum. In the nine patients studied, levels of serum soluble TCCs were approximately 1.6-fold higher than in sera obtained from normal control individuals. On incubation of rat islet cells with diluted serum (10%, v/v, concentration), complement activation was increased at a significantly faster rate and the total TCC concentration was significantly higher in culture medium containing IDDM patient serum than in medium containing control serum. The concentration of anti-(glutamic acid decarboxylase) autoantibodies in newly diagnosed IDDM patient serum was on average 60-fold higher than in normal human control serum. IDDM patient serum (10%, v/v) induced apoptosis in islet cells, as determined by islet cell density changes and DNA fragmentation patterns. However, serum from IDDM patients was not able to induce apoptosis of the cells when complement components (C1q and C3) or antibodies were depleted. In addition, glutamine and the potent antioxidant 1-pyrrolidinecarbodithioic acid partially reversed cell death induced by IDDM patient serum in a concentration-dependent manner. The ATP concentration in islet cells incubated for 24 h in the presence of diluted IDDM patient serum was reduced to 4.4% of that observed in islet cells incubated in fetal calf serum or 7.3% of that observed in islet cells incubated in normal human serum. On the basis of these observations, we suggest that the pathway of IDDM patient serum-induced islet cell apoptosis may involve antibody-dependent complement activation, free radical generation and a precipitous fall in ATP levels.

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G Dixon, J Nolan, N McClenaghan, PR Flatt, and P Newsholme

Evidence has been published that L -alanine may, under appropriate conditions, promote insulin secretion in normal rodent islets and various beta cell lines. Previous results utilising the clonal beta-cell line BRIN-BD11, demonstrated that alanine dramatically elevated insulin release by a mechanism requiring oxidative metabolism. We demonstrate in this paper that addition ofL -alanine had an insulinotropic effect in dispersed primary islet cells. Addition of D -glucose increasedL -alanine consumption in both BRIN-BD11 cells and primary islet cells.L -glutamine consumption in the BRIN-BD11 cell line and primary rat islets was also determined. The consumption rate was in line with that previously reported for cells of the immune system and other glutamine-utilising cells or tIssues. However,L -alanine consumption was at least an order of magnitude higher thanL -glutamine consumption. The metabolism ofL -alanine in the beta-cell may result in stimulation of insulin secretion via generation of metabolic stimulus secretion coupling factors such asL -glutamate.

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S Patterson, P R Flatt, L Brennan, P Newsholme, and N H McClenaghan

Elevated plasma homocysteine has been reported in individuals with diseases of the metabolic syndrome including vascular disease and insulin resistance. As homocysteine exerts detrimental effects on endothelial and neuronal cells, this study investigated effects of acute homocysteine exposure on β-cell function and insulin secretion using clonal BRIN-BD11 β-cells. Acute insulin release studies in the presence of various test reagents were performed using monolayers of BRIN-BD11 cells and samples assayed by insulin radioimmunoassay. Cellular glucose metabolism was assessed by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis following 60-min exposure of BRIN-BD11 cell monolayers to glucose in either the absence or presence of homocysteine. Homocysteine dose-dependently inhibited insulin release at moderate and stimulatory glucose concentrations. This inhibitory effect was reversible at all but the highest concentration of homocysteine. 13C-glucose NMR demonstrated decreased labelling of glutamate from glucose at positions C2, C3 and C4, indicating that the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle-dependent glucose metabolism was reduced in the presence of homocysteine. Homocysteine also dose-dependently inhibited insulinotropic responses to a range of glucose-dependent secretagogues including nutrients (alanine, arginine, 2-ketoisocaproate), hormones (glucagon-like peptide-1 (7–36)amide, gastric inhibitory polypeptide and cholecystokinin-8), neurotransmitter (carbachol), drug (tolbutamide) as well as a depolarising concentration of KCl or elevated Ca2+. Insulin secretion induced by activation of adenylate cyclase and protein kinase C pathways with forskolin and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate were also inhibited by homocysteine. These effects were not associated with any adverse action on cellular insulin content or cell viability, and there was no increase in apoptosis/necrosis following exposure to homocysteine. These data indicate that homocysteine impairs insulin secretion through alterations in β-cell glucose metabolism and generation of key stimulus-secretion coupling factors. The participation of homocysteine in possible β-cell demise merits further investigation.

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P Newsholme, E Rebelato, F Abdulkader, M Krause, A Carpinelli, and R Curi

Growing evidence indicates that the regulation of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) levels is essential for maintaining normal β-cell glucose responsiveness. While long-term exposure to high glucose induces oxidative stress in β cells, conflicting results have been published regarding the impact of ROS on acute glucose exposure and their role in glucose stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS). Although β cells are considered to be particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage, as they express relatively low levels of some peroxide-metabolizing enzymes such as catalase and glutathione (GSH) peroxidase, other less known GSH-based antioxidant systems are expressed in β cells at higher levels. Herein, we discuss the key mechanisms of ROS/RNS production and their physiological function in pancreatic β cells. We also hypothesize that specific interactions between RNS and ROS may be the cause of the vulnerability of pancreatic β cells to oxidative damage. In addition, using a hypothetical metabolic model based on the data available in the literature, we emphasize the importance of amino acid availability for GSH synthesis and for the maintenance of β-cell function and viability during periods of metabolic disturbance before the clinical onset of diabetes.

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SJ Conroy, YH Abdel-Wahab, EM Caraher, PM Byrne, E Murphy, J Nolan, PR Flatt, and P Newsholme

There are conflicting reports on the effect of serum from patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) or normal human serum on beta-cell function and insulin secretion. Here, we report that the sera of newly diagnosed IDDM patients potently suppresses insulin secretion from a clonal rat pancreatic beta-cell line (BRIN-BD11), but do not alter cell viability. Indeed, the viability of the beta-cells was not significantly different between cells cultured in 10% (v/v) IDDM sera, normal human sera, or fetal calf serum after 24, 48 and 72 h. Alanine-stimulated insulin secretion from cells cultured for 24 h in (10% v/v) IDDM patient sera was reduced to 48% of that secreted from cells cultured in (10% v/v) normal human sera. After depletion of the complement components C1q and C3, the inhibition of insulin secretion induced by IDDM patient sera was significantly reversed (no significant difference was observed between cells cultured in complement-depleted IDDM patient sera and cells cultured in normal human sera or complement-depleted normal human sera). The concentration of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) autoantibodies was markedly increased in the sera of six out of nine newly diagnosed IDDM patients in this study, whereas insulin auto-antibodies (IAA) were detected in the sera of three of the nine patients and islet-cell antibodies (ICA) in the sera of five of them. In addition, the concentration of soluble terminal complement complexes (SC5-9) was greater in some of the beta-cell culture media samples after 24 h incubation when the incubation medium was supplemented with IDDM patient sera than when supplementation was with normal human sera. We propose that the mechanism of sera-induced inhibition of insulin secretion from clonal beta-cells may involve complement- and cytokine-stimulated intracellular events that attenuate the metabolite-induced secretory process.

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G. Dimitriadis, M. Parry-Billings, D. Dunger, S. Bevan, A. Colquhoun, A. Taylor, P. Calder, U. Krause, G. Wegener, and E. A. Newsholme


This study investigated the effects of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) administered to rats in vivo on the soleus muscle isolated from these rats. In order to study the interactions between IGF-I and insulin, the soleus muscles were incubated in the presence of various concentrations of insulin. IGF-I (190–200 μg) was given twice daily; the rats were killed 1 h after one injection of IGF-I (acute administration) or after treatment with IGF-I for 10 days (prolonged administration). The level of IGF-I in plasma was increased by ∼ 100% after acute administration and by around 30% after 10 days of treatment with IGF-I. Acute administration of IGF-I to the rats increased the flux of glucose to hexose monophosphate and the rates of lactate formation and glycogen synthesis in the soleus muscles; however, the responsiveness of these muscles to insulin was lost: the increase in the rate of glucose utilization by IGF-I at physiological concentrations of insulin (10 or 100 mU/l) was similar to that observed at maximal concentrations of insulin (1000 mU/l). Similar results were obtained after prolonged treatment of the rats with IGF-I; however, the increase in the rate of glucose utilization was less pronounced than when IGF-I was given acutely and the muscles were still capable of responding to insulin. These results suggest that: (a) acute or chronic increases in the serum level of IGF-I in the rat in vivo increase the basal rate of glucose utilization in skeletal muscle; this increase is independent of insulin; (b) the effects of insulin on the rate of glucose utilization are not additive to those of IGF-I; however, this may depend on the level of IGF-I in serum.

Journal of Endocrinology (1992) 133, 37–43

Free access

SJ Conroy, I Green, G Dixon, PM Byrne, J Nolan, YH Abdel-Wahab, N McClenaghan, PR Flatt, and P Newsholme

We have previously reported that newly diagnosed Type-1 diabetic patient sera potently suppressed insulin secretion from a clonal rat pancreatic beta-cell line (BRIN BD11) but did not alter cell viability. Here, we report that apoptosis in BRIN BD11 cells incubated in various sera types (fetal calf serum (FCS), normal human serum and Type-1 diabetic patient) was virtually undetectable. Although low levels of necrosis were detected, these were not significantly different between cells incubated in sera from different sources. ATP levels were reduced by approximately 30% while nitrite production increased twofold from BRIN BD11 cells incubated for 24 h in the presence of Type-1 diabetic patient sera compared with normal human sera. Additionally, ATP levels were reduced by approximately 40% and DNA fragmentation increased by more than 20-fold in BRIN BD11 cells incubated in FCS in the presence of a pro-inflammatory cytokine cocktail (interleukin-1beta, tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interferon-gamma), compared with cells incubated in the absence of cytokines. Nitric oxide production from BRIN BD11 cells was markedly increased (up to 10-fold) irrespective of sera type when the cytokine cocktail was included in the incubation medium. Type-1 diabetic patient sera significantly (P<0.001) raised basal levels of intracellular free Ca(2+ )concentration ([Ca(2+)](i)) in BRIN BD11 cells after a 24-h incubation. The alteration in [Ca(2+)](i) concentration was complement dependent, as removal of the early complement components C1q and C3 resulted in a significant reduction (P<0.01) of sera-induced [Ca(2+)](i )changes. We propose that the mechanism of Type-1 diabetic patient sera-induced inhibition of insulin secretion from clonal beta-cells may involve complement-stimulated elevation of [Ca(2+)](i) which attenuates the nutrient-induced insulin secretory process possibly by desensitizing the cell to further changes in Ca(2+).