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Neil Tanday, Peter R Flatt, Nigel Irwin and R Charlotte Moffett

Transdifferentiation of beta- to alpha-cells has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetes. To investigate the impact of contrasting aetiologies of beta-cell stress, as well as clinically approved incretin therapies on this process, lineage tracing of beta-cells in transgenic Ins1Cre/+/Rosa26-eYFP mice was investigated. Diabetes-like syndromes were induced by streptozotocin (STZ), high fat feeding (HFF) or hydrocortisone (HC), and effects of treatment with liraglutide or sitagliptin investigated. Mice developed the characteristic metabolic features associated with beta-cell destruction or development of insulin resistance. Liraglutide was effective in preventing weight gain in HFF mice, with both treatments decreasing energy intake in STZ and HC mice. Treatment intervention also significantly reduced blood glucose levels in STZ and HC mice, as well as increasing either plasma or pancreatic insulin while decreasing circulating or pancreatic glucagon in all models. The recognised changes in pancreatic morphology induced by STZ, HFF or HC were partially, or fully, reversed by liraglutide and sitagliptin, and related to advantageous effects on alpha- and beta-cell growth and survival. More interestingly, induction of diabetes-like phenotype, regardless of pathogenesis, led to increased numbers of beta-cells losing their identity, as well as decreased expression of Pdx1 within beta-cells. Both treatment interventions, and especially liraglutide, countered detrimental islet cell transitioning effects in STZ and HFF mice. Only liraglutide imparted benefits on beta- to alpha-cell transdifferentiation in HC mice. These data demonstrate that beta- to alpha-cell transdifferentiation is a common consequence of beta-cell destruction or insulin resistance, and that clinically approved incretin-based drugs effectively limit this.

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Aoife Kiely, Neville H McClenaghan, Peter R Flatt and Philip Newsholme

We have investigated the effects of prolonged exposure (24 h) to pro-inflammatory cytokines on β-cell metabolism and insulin secretion using clonal BRIN-BD11 β cells. Addition of IL-1β, tumour necrosis factor-α and IFN-γ (at concentrations that did not induce apoptosis) inhibited chronic (24 h) and acute stimulated levels of insulin release (by 59 and 93% respectively), increased cellular glucose and alanine consumption, and also elevated lactate and glutamate release. However, ATP levels and cellular triacylglycerol were decreased while glutathione was increased. We conclude that sub-lethal concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines appear to shift β-cell metabolism away from a key role in energy generation and stimulus–secretion coupling and towards a catabolic state which may be related to cell defence.

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Neville H McClenaghan, Peter R Flatt and Andrew J Ball

This study examined the effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) on insulin secretion alone and in combination with sulphonylureas or nateglinide, with particular attention to KATP channel-independent insulin secretion. In depolarised cells, GLP-1 significantly augmented glucose-induced KATP channel-independent insulin secretion in a glucose concentration-dependent manner. GLP-1 similarly augmented the KATP channel-independent insulin-releasing effects of tolbutamide, glibenclamide or nateglinide. Downregulation of protein kinase A (PKA)- or protein kinase C (PKC)-signalling pathways in culture revealed that the KATP channel-independent effects of sulphonylureas or nateglinide were critically dependent upon intact PKA and PKC signalling. In contrast, GLP-1 exhibited a reduced but still significant insulin-releasing effect following PKA and PKC downregulation, indicating that GLP-1 can modulate KATP channel-independent insulin secretion by protein kinase-dependent and -independent mechanisms. The synergistic insulin-releasing effects of combinatorial GLP-1 and sulphonylurea/nateglinide were lost following PKA- or PKC-desensitisation, despite GLP-1 retaining an insulin-releasing effect, demonstrating that GLP-1 can induce insulin release under conditions where sulphonylureas and nateglinide are no longer effective. Our results provide new insights into the mechanisms of action of GLP-1, and further highlight the promise of GLP-1 or similarly acting analogues alone or in combination with sulphonylureas or meglitinide drugs in type 2 diabetes therapy.

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Ashley I Taylor, Nigel Irwin, Aine M McKillop, Steven Patterson, Peter R Flatt and Victor A Gault

Recently, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) have received much attention regarding possible roles in aetiology and treatment of type 2 diabetes. However, peptides co-secreted from the same enteroendocrine cells are less well studied. The present investigation was designed to characterise the in vitro and in vivo effects of xenin, a peptide co-secreted with GIP from intestinal K-cells. We examined the enzymatic stability, insulin-releasing activity and associated cAMP production capability of xenin in vitro. In addition, the effects of xenin on satiety, glucose homoeostasis and insulin secretion were examined in vivo. Xenin was time dependently degraded (t 1/2=162±6 min) in plasma in vitro. In clonal BRIN-BD11 cells, xenin stimulated insulin secretion at 5.6 mM (P<0.05) and 16.7 mM (P<0.05 to P<0.001) glucose levels compared to respective controls. Xenin also exerted an additive effect on GIP, GLP1 and neurotensin-mediated insulin secretion. In clonal β-cells, xenin did not stimulate cellular cAMP production, alter membrane potential or elevate intra-cellular Ca2 +. In normal mice, xenin exhibited a short-acting (P<0.01) satiety effect at high dosage (500 nmol/kg). In overnight fasted mice, acute injection of xenin enhanced glucose-lowering and elevated insulin secretion when injected concomitantly or 30 min before glucose. These effects were not observed when xenin was administered 60 min before the glucose challenge, reflecting the short half-life of the native peptide in vivo. Overall, these data demonstrate that xenin may have significant metabolic effects on glucose control, which merit further study.

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Mary Corless, Aoife Kiely, Neville H McClenaghan, Peter R Flatt and Philip Newsholme

We have investigated the effects of prolonged exposure (24 h) to the amino acid l-glutamine, on gene and protein expression using clonal BRIN-BD11 β-cells. Expression profiling of BRIN-BD11 cells was performed using oligonucleotide microarray analysis. Culture for 24 h with 10 mM l-glutamine compared with 1 mM resulted in substantial changes in gene expression with 148 genes upregulated more than 1.8-fold, and 18 downregulated more than 1.8-fold, including many genes involved in cellular signaling, metabolism, gene regulation, and the insulin-secretory response. Subsequent functional experiments confirmed that l-glutamine increased the activity of the Ca2+ regulated phosphatase calcineurin and the transcription factor Pdx1. Additionally, we demonstrated that β-cell-derived l-glutamate was released into the extracellular medium at high rates. As calcineurin is a regulator of the glutamate N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activity, we investigated the action of NMDA on nutrient-induced insulin secretion, and demonstrated suppressed insulin release. These observations indicate important long-term effects of l-glutamine in regulating β-cell gene expression, signaling, and secretory function.

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Nigel Irwin, Pamela Frizelle, Finbarr P M O'Harte and Peter R Flatt

Cholecystokinin (CCK) is a hormone that has important physiological effects on energy balance. This study has used a stable CCK1 receptor agonist, (pGlu-Gln)-CCK-8, to evaluate the metabolic effects of prolonged administration in normal mice. Twice-daily injection of (pGlu-Gln)-CCK-8 for 28 days resulted in significantly lowered body weights (P<0.05) on days 24 and 28, which was associated with decreased accumulated calorie intake (P<0.01) from day 12 onward. Nonfasting plasma glucose was significantly reduced (P<0.05) on day 28, while plasma insulin concentrations were increased (P<0.05). After 28 days, glucose tolerance and glucose-mediated insulin secretion were not significantly different in (pGlu-Gln)-CCK-8-treated mice. However, following a 15-min refeeding period in 18-h fasted mice, glucose levels were significantly (P<0.05) decreased by (pGlu-Gln)-CCK-8 despite similar food intake and nutrient-induced insulin levels. Insulin sensitivity in (pGlu-Gln)-CCK-8-treated mice was significantly (P<0.01) improved compared with controls. Accumulation of triacylglycerol in liver was reduced (P<0.01) but there were no differences in circulating cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations, as well as triacylglycerol content of pancreatic, muscle, and adipose tissue in (pGlu-Gln)-CCK-8 mice. These data highlight the beneficial metabolic effects of prolonged (pGlu-Gln)-CCK-8 administration and confirm a lack of detrimental effects.

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Hong Guo-Parke, Jane T McCluskey, Catriona Kelly, Muhajir Hamid, Neville H McClenaghan and Peter R Flatt

Formation of pseudoislets from rodent cell lines has provided a particularly useful model to study homotypic islet cell interactions and insulin secretion. This study aimed to extend this research to generate and characterize, for the first time, functional human pseudoislets comprising the recently described electrofusion-derived insulin-secreting 1.1B4 human β-cell line. Structural pseudoislets formed readily over 3–7 days in culture using ultra-low-attachment plastic, attaining a static size of 100–200 μm in diameter, corresponding to ∼6000 β cells. This was achieved by decreases in cell proliferation and integrity as assessed by BrdU ELISA, 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide, and lactate dehydrogenase assays. Insulin content was comparable between monolayers and pseudoislets. However, pseudoislet formation enhanced insulin secretion by 1.7- to 12.5-fold in response to acute stimulation with glucose, amino acids, incretin hormones, or drugs compared with equivalent cell monolayers. Western blot and RT-PCR showed expression of key genes involved in cell communication and the stimulus-secretion pathway. Expression of E-Cadherin and connexin 36 and 43 was greatly enhanced in pseudoislets with no appreciable connexin 43 protein expression in monolayers. Comparable levels of insulin, glucokinase, and GLUT1 were found in both cell populations. The improved secretory function of human 1.1B4 cell pseudoislets over monolayers results from improved cellular interactions mediated through gap junction communication. Pseudoislets comprising engineered electrofusion-derived human β cells provide an attractive model for islet research and drug testing as well as offering novel therapeutic application through transplantation.

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Aoife Kiely, Aisling Robinson, Neville H McClenaghan, Peter R Flatt and Philip Newsholme

Evidence for involvement of toll-like receptors (TLRs) (e.g. TLR4 and TLR2, whose agonists include lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and saturated fatty acids) in altered patterns of signalling in adipose, liver and muscle from animal models of insulin resistance and obesity has been published. We have now extended this area of research and have determined the effects of LPS on cell viability, insulin secretion, insulin signalling and metabolism in a clonal β-cell line. BRIN-BD11 β-cells were treated for 24 h with increasing concentrations of LPS. Chronic (24 h) and acute (20 min) insulin secretion, insulin content and parameters of cell metabolism and insulin signalling were determined. Incubation of BRIN-BD11 cells for 24 h in the presence of increasing concentrations of the TLR4 ligand LPS significantly decreased chronic (24 h) insulin secretion from 1.09±0.19 to 0.76±0.18 μg insulin/mg protein in the presence of 100 ng/ml LPS (P<0.05). There was no change in acute (20 min) stimulated insulin secretion or insulin content. Cell metabolism was not changed. Insulin receptor-β (IRβ) expression levels were increased significantly from 1±0.52 to 8.6±1.83 units (P<0.01), whereas calcineurin activity and Akt phosphorylation were significantly (P<0.01 and P<0.05 respectively) reduced in response to 24 h incubation in the presence of LPS. There was no change in IR substrate-1 protein expression or phosphorylation after 24 h. Further incubation for 24 h in the absence of LPS resulted in the recovery of chronic insulin secretion. The negative β-cell effects of LPS may contribute to hyperglycaemia in vivo.

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Christine M A Martin, Vadivel Parthsarathy, Varun Pathak, Victor A Gault, Peter R Flatt and Nigel Irwin

Xenin-25, a peptide co-secreted with the incretin hormone glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), possesses promising therapeutic actions for obesity-diabetes. However, native xenin-25 is rapidly degraded by serum enzymes to yield the truncated metabolites: xenin 9–25, xenin 11–25, xenin 14–25 and xenin 18–25. This study has examined the biological activities of these fragment peptides. In vitro studies using BRIN-BD11 cells demonstrated that native xenin-25 and xenin 18–25 possessed significant (P<0.05 to P<0.001) insulin-releasing actions at 5.6 and 16.7 mM glucose, respectively, but not at 1.1 mM glucose. In addition, xenin 18–25 significantly (P<0.05) potentiated the insulin-releasing action of the stable GIP mimetic (d-Ala2)GIP. In contrast, xenin 9–25, xenin 11–25 and xenin 14–25 displayed neither insulinotropic nor GIP-potentiating actions. Moreover, xenin 9–25, xenin 11–25 and xenin 14–25 significantly (P<0.05 to P<0.001) inhibited xenin-25 (10−6 M)-induced insulin release in vitro. I.p. administration of xenin-based peptides in combination with glucose to high fat-fed mice did not significantly affect the glycaemic excursion or glucose-induced insulin release compared with controls. However, when combined with (d-Ala2)GIP, all xenin peptides significantly (P<0.01 to P<0.001) reduced the overall glycaemic excursion, albeit to a similar extent as (d-Ala2)GIP alone. Xenin-25 and xenin 18–25 also imparted a potential synergistic effect on (d-Ala2)GIP-induced insulin release in high fat-fed mice. All xenin-based peptides lacked significant satiety effects in normal mice. These data demonstrate that the C-terminally derived fragment peptide of xenin-25, xenin 18–25, exhibits significant biological actions that could have therapeutic utility for obesity-diabetes.

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Guillaume Mabilleau, Aleksandra Mieczkowska, Nigel Irwin, Peter R Flatt and Daniel Chappard

Bone is permanently remodeled by a complex network of local, hormonal, and neuronal factors that affect osteoclast and osteoblast biology. Among these factors, a role for gastrointestinal hormones has been proposed based on the evidence that bone resorption dramatically falls after a meal. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1) is one of these gut hormones, and despite several reports suggesting an anabolic effect of GLP1, or its stable analogs, on bone mass, little is known about the effects of GLP1/GLP1 receptor on bone strength. In this study, we investigated by three-point bending, quantitative X-ray microradiography, microcomputed tomography, qBEI, and FTIRI bone strength and bone quality in male Glp1r knockout (Glp1r KO) mice when compared with control WT animals. Animals with a deletion of Glp1r presented with a significant reduction in ultimate load, yield load, stiffness, and total absorbed and post-yield energies when compared with WT animals. Furthermore, cortical thickness and bone outer diameter were significantly decreased in deficient animals. The mineral quantity and quality were not significantly different between Glp1r KO and WT animals. On the other hand, the maturity of the collagen matrix was significantly reduced in deficient animals and associated with lowered material properties. Taken together, these data support a positive effect of GLP1R on bone strength and quality.