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Lyle Wiemerslage, Priya A Gohel, Giulia Maestri, Torfi G Hilmarsson, Michel Mickael, Robert Fredriksson, Michael J Williams and Helgi B Schiöth

Transmembrane protein 18 (TMEM18) is an ill-described, obesity-related gene, but few studies have explored its molecular function. We found single-nucleotide polymorphism data, suggesting that TMEM18 may be involved in the regulation/physiology of metabolic syndrome based on associations with insulin, homeostatic model assessment-β (HOMAβ), triglycerides, and blood sugar. We then found an ortholog in the Drosophila genome, knocked down Drosophila Tmem18 specifically in insulin-producing cells, and tested for its effects on metabolic function. Our results suggest that TMEM18 affects substrate levels through insulin and glucagon signaling, and its downregulation induces a metabolic state resembling type 2 diabetes. This work is the first to experimentally describe the metabolic consequences of TMEM18 knockdown, and further supports its association with obesity.

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FL Norby, Aberle NS 2nd, J Kajstura, P Anversa and J Ren

Diabetic cardiomyopathy is characterized by cardiac dysfunction and altered level/function of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I). Both endogenous and exogenous IGF-I have been shown to effectively alleviate diabetes-induced cardiac dysfunction and oxidative stress. This study was designed to examine the effect of cardiac overexpression of IGF-I on streptozotocin (STZ)-induced cardiac contractile dysfunction in mouse myocytes. Both IGF-I heterozygous transgenic mice and their wild-type FVB littermates were made diabetic with a single injection of STZ (200 mg/kg, i.p.) and maintained for 2 weeks. The following mechanical indices were evaluated in ventricular myocytes: peak shortening (PS), time-to-PS (TPS), time-to-90% relengthening (TR90) and maximal velocity of shortening/relengthening (+/- dL/dt). Intracellular Ca2+ was evaluated as resting and peak intracellular Ca2+ levels, Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release and intracellular Ca2+ decay rate (tau). STZ led to hyperglycemia in FVB and IGF-I mice. STZ treatment prolonged TPS and TR90, reduced Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release, increased resting intracellular Ca2+ levels and slowed tau associated with normal PS and +/- dL/dt. All of which, except the elevated resting intracellular Ca2+, were prevented by the IGF-I transgene. In addition, myocytes from STZ-treated FVB mice displayed an attenuated contractile response to the beta-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol, which was restored by the IGF-I transgene. Contractile response to the alpha-adrenergic agonist phenylephrine and angiotensin II was not affected by either STZ treatment or IGF-I. These results validate the beneficial role of IGF-I in diabetic cardiomyopathy, possibly due to an improved beta-adrenergic response.

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Thierry Métayé, Pierre Levillain, Jean-Louis Kraimps and Rémy Perdrisot

TSH, via its G-protein-coupled receptor, activates cell growth of both benign and malignant thyroid tumors. G-protein-coupled receptors (GR) kinase 2 (GRK2) has been reported to regulate the TSH receptor but its role in cancer is unknown. To determine a possible function for GRK2 in the growth process of thyroid cancers, we analysed its expression in normal and tumoral thyroid tissues and studied thyroid cancer cell line proliferation after GRK2 overexpression. Thirty one thyroid tissues, including 16 non-medullary thyroid cancers and 15 adjacent normal tissues, were analysed by immunohistochemistry. Five paired tissues were also studied by western blotting for the GRK2 enzymatic activity. Immunohistochemical staining showed an increase in GRK2 in thyroid cancers including papillary, follicular, and anaplastic types, compared with their adjacent normal tissues. Immunoblot analysis and GRK2 enzymatic activity measurement confirmed immunohistochemical study. TSH and TSH in association with insulin or IGF-I stimulated GRK2 protein accumulation in normal human thyroid cells in primary culture. The TSH effect on the GRK2 expression was mimicked by forskolin. After GRK2 overexpression in two poorly differentiated thyroid cell lines, all the clones showed a significant reduction in cell proliferation, ranging from 28 to 65% inhibition compared with vector alone after 96-h culture. In conclusion, thyroid mitogenic factor-stimulated GRK2 accumulation may explain, in part, high GRK2 levels in differentiated carcinoma, because TSH, insulin, or IGF-I is known to be involved in the thyroid cancer progression. Surprisingly, instead of stimulating, GRK2 reduced cell proliferation revealing a new role for this kinase in the growth of thyroid cancers.

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C H Blomquist, B S Leung, C Beaudoin, D Poirier and Y Tremblay


There is growing evidence that various isoforms of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (17-HSD) are regulated at the level of catalysis in intact cells. A number of investigators have proposed that the NAD(P)/NAD(P)H ratio may control the direction of reaction. In a previous study, we obtained evidence that A431 cells, derived from an epidermoid carcinoma of the vulva, are enriched in 17-HSD type 2, a membrane-bound isoform reactive with C18 and C19 17β-hydroxysteroids and 17-ketosteroids. The present investigation was undertaken to confirm the presence of 17-HSD type 2 in A431 cells and to assess intracellular regulation of 17-HSD at the level of catalysis by comparing the activity of homogenates and microsomes with that of cell monolayers. Northern blot analysis confirmed the presence of 17-HSD type 2 mRNA. Exposure of cells to epidermal growth factor resulted in an increase in type 2 mRNA and, for microsomes, increases in maximum velocity (V max) with no change in Michaelis constant (K m) for testosterone and androstenedione, resulting in equivalent increases in the V max/K m ratio consistent with the presence of a single enzyme. Initial velocity data and inhibition patterns were consistent with a highly ordered reaction sequence in vitro in which testosterone and androstenedione bind only to either an enzyme–NAD or an enzyme–NADH complex respectively. Microsomal dehydrogenase activity with testosterone was 2- to 3-fold higher than reductase activity with androstenedione. In contrast, although cell monolayers rapidly converted testosterone to androstenedione, reductase activity with androstenedione or dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) was barely detectable. Lactate but not glucose, pyruvate or isocitrate stimulated the conversion of androstenedione to testosterone by monolayers, suggesting that cytoplasmic NADH may be the cofactor for 17-HSD type 2 reductase activity with androstenedione. However, exposure to lactate did not result in a significant change in the NAD/NADH ratio of cell monolayers. It appears that within A431 cells 17-HSD type 2 is regulated at the level of catalysis to function almost exclusively as a dehydrogenase. These findings give further support to the concept that 17-HSD type 2 functions in vivo principally as a dehydrogenase and that its role as a reductase in testosterone formation by either the Δ4 or Δ5 pathway is limited.

Journal of Endocrinology (1997) 153, 453–464

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Pieces of human foetal pancreas were incubated under control conditions and in media containing different stimuli of insulin release. Insulin secretion was stimulated from the pancreases of foetuses (83–625 g body weight) which were of 16–24 weeks gestational age. Potassium (60 mmol/l), barium (2·54 mmol/l) and ouabain (10−5 mol/l) were effective stimuli in all experiments. Glucagon (5 μg/ml), theophylline (1 mmol/l) and dibutyryl 3′,5′-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (1 mmol/l) stimulated insulin secretion in media containing 0, 0·6 or 3·0 mg glucose/ml. Theophylline and dibutyryl 3′,5′-cyclic adenosine monophosphate were effective in all experients and glucagon stimulated insulin release in four out of six experiments. At all ages studied, histological examination of the pancreas after each experiment revealed islets of Langerhans containing β cells. In most cases the islets were of the mantle type but occasionally bipolar islets were seen. Cellular normality, as judged by light microscopy, was preserved after periods of incubation for up to 5½ h. Glycogen was demonstrable in the pancreatic acinar tissue but not in the islets.

The results of these experiments indicate that, between the 16th and 24th week of foetal life, the human β cell is capable of releasing insulin in vitro when stimulated appropriately.

Free access

Shiying Shao, Yun Gao, Bing Xie, Fei Xie, Sai Kiang Lim and GuoDong Li

Shortage of cadaveric pancreata and requirement of immune suppression are two major obstacles in transplantation therapy of type 1 diabetes. Here, we investigate whether i.p. transplantation of alginate-encapsulated insulin-producing cells from the embryo-derived mouse embryo progenitor-derived insulin-producing-1 (MEPI-1) line could lower hyperglycemia in immune-competent, allogeneic diabetic mice. Within days after transplantation, hyperglycemia was reversed followed by about 2.5 months of normo- to moderate hypoglycemia before relapsing. Mice transplanted with unencapsulated MEPI cells relapsed within 2 weeks. Removal of the transplanted capsules by washing of the peritoneal cavity caused an immediate relapse of hyperglycemia that could be reversed with a second transplantation. The removed capsules had fibrotic overgrowth but remained permeable to 70 kDa dextrans and displayed glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Following transplantation, the number of cells in capsules increased initially, before decreasing to below the starting cell number at 75 days. Histological examination showed that beyond day 40 post-transplantation, encapsulated cell clusters exhibited proliferating cells with a necrotic core. Blood glucose, insulin levels, and oral glucose tolerance test in the transplanted animals correlated directly with the number of viable cells remaining in the capsules. Our study demonstrated that encapsulation could effectively protect MEPI cells from the host immune system without compromising their ability to correct hyperglycemia in immune-competent diabetic mice for 2.5 months, thereby providing proof that immunoisolation of expansible but immune-incompatible stem cell-derived surrogate β-cells by encapsulation is a viable diabetes therapy.

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M G Cavallo, F Dotta, L Monetini, S Dionisi, M Previti, L Valente, A Toto, U Di Mario and P Pozzilli


In the present study we have evaluated the expression of different beta-cell markers, islet molecules and autoantigens relevant in diabetes autoimmunity by a human insulinoma cell line (CM) in order to define its similarities with native beta cells and to discover whether it could be considered as a model for studies on immunological aspects of Type 1 diabetes.

First, the positivity of the CM cell line for known markers of neuroendocrine derivation was determined by means of immunocytochemical analysis using different anti-islet monoclonal antibodies including A2B5 and 3G5 reacting with islet gangliosides, and HISL19 binding to an islet glycoprotein. Secondly, the expression and characteristics of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and of GM2-1 ganglioside, both known to be islet autoantigens in diabetes autoimmunity and expressed by human native beta cells, were investigated in the CM cell line. The pattern of ganglioside expression in comparison to that of native beta cells was also evaluated. Thirdly, the binding of diabetic sera to CM cells reacting with islet cytoplasmic antigens (ICA) was studied by immunohistochemistry. The results of this study showed that beta cell markers identified by anti-islet monoclonal antibodies A2B5, 3G5 and HISL-19 are expressed by CM cells; similarly, islet molecules such as GAD and GM2-1 ganglioside are present and possess similar characteristics to those found in native beta cells; the pattern of expression of other gangliosides by CM cells is also identical to human pancreatic islets; beta cell autoantigen(s) reacting with antibodies present in islet cell antibodies (ICA) positive diabetic sera identified by ICA binding are also detectable in this insulinoma cell line.

We conclude that CM cells show close similarities to native beta cells with respect to the expression of neuroendocrine markers, relevant beta cell autoantigens in Type 1 diabetes (GAD, GM2-1, ICA antigen), and other gangliosides. Therefore, this insulinoma cell line may be considered as an ideal model for studies aimed at investigating autoimmune phenomena occurring in Type 1 diabetes.

Journal of Endocrinology (1996) 150, 113–120

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Wang-Yang Xu, Yan Shen, Houbao Zhu, Junhui Gao, Chen Zhang, Lingyun Tang, Shun-Yuan Lu, Chun-Ling Shen, Hong-Xin Zhang, Ziwei Li, Peng Meng, Ying-Han Wan, Jian Fei and Zhu-Gang Wang

Obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D) are both complicated endocrine disorders resulting from an interaction between multiple predisposing genes and environmental triggers, while diet and exercise have key influence on metabolic disorders. Previous reports demonstrated that 2-aminoadipic acid (2-AAA), an intermediate metabolite of lysine metabolism, could modulate insulin secretion and predict T2D, suggesting the role of 2-AAA in glycolipid metabolism. Here, we showed that treatment of diet-induced obesity (DIO) mice with 2-AAA significantly reduced body weight, decreased fat accumulation and lowered fasting glucose. Furthermore, Dhtkd1−/− mice, in which the substrate of DHTKD1 2-AAA increased to a significant high level, were resistant to DIO and obesity-related insulin resistance. Further study showed that 2-AAA induced higher energy expenditure due to increased adipocyte thermogenesis via upregulating PGC1α and UCP1 mediated by β3AR activation, and stimulated lipolysis depending on enhanced expression of hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) through activating β3AR signaling. Moreover, 2-AAA could alleviate the diabetic symptoms of db/db mice. Our data showed that 2-AAA played an important role in regulating glycolipid metabolism independent of diet and exercise, implying that improving the level of 2-AAA in vivo could be developed as a strategy in the treatment of obesity or diabetes.

Free access

Richard W Nelson and Claudia E Reusch

Diabetes mellitus is a common disease in dogs and cats. The most common form of diabetes in dogs resembles type 1 diabetes in humans. Studies suggest that genetics, an immune-mediated component, and environmental factors are involved in the development of diabetes in dogs. A variant of gestational diabetes also occurs in dogs. The most common form of diabetes in cats resembles type 2 diabetes in humans. A major risk factor in cats is obesity. Obese cats have altered expression of several insulin signaling genes and glucose transporters and are leptin resistant. Cats also form amyloid deposits within the islets of the pancreas and develop glucotoxicity when exposed to prolonged hyperglycemia. This review will briefly summarize our current knowledge about the etiology of diabetes in dogs and cats and illustrate the similarities among dogs, cats, and humans.

Free access

BD Green, MH Mooney, VA Gault, N Irwin, CJ Bailey, P Harriott, B Greer, FP O'Harte and PR Flatt

Glucagon-like peptide-1(7-36)amide (GLP-1) possesses several unique and beneficial effects for the potential treatment of type 2 diabetes. However, the rapid inactivation of GLP-1 by dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP IV) results in a short half-life in vivo (less than 2 min) hindering therapeutic development. In the present study, a novel His(7)-modified analogue of GLP-1, N-pyroglutamyl-GLP-1, as well as N-acetyl-GLP-1 were synthesised and tested for DPP IV stability and biological activity. Incubation of GLP-1 with either DPP IV or human plasma resulted in rapid degradation of native GLP-1 to GLP-1(9-36)amide, while N-acetyl-GLP-1 and N-pyroglutamyl-GLP-1 were completely resistant to degradation. N-acetyl-GLP-1 and N-pyroglutamyl-GLP-1 bound to the GLP-1 receptor but had reduced affinities (IC(50) values 32.9 and 6.7 nM, respectively) compared with native GLP-1 (IC(50) 0.37 nM). Similarly, both analogues stimulated cAMP production with EC(50) values of 16.3 and 27 nM respectively compared with GLP-1 (EC(50) 4.7 nM). However, N-acetyl-GLP-1 and N-pyroglutamyl-GLP-1 exhibited potent insulinotropic activity in vitro at 5.6 mM glucose (P<0.05 to P<0.001) similar to native GLP-1. Both analogues (25 nM/kg body weight) lowered plasma glucose and increased plasma insulin levels when administered in conjunction with glucose (18 nM/kg body weight) to adult obese diabetic (ob/ob) mice. N-pyroglutamyl-GLP-1 was substantially better at lowering plasma glucose compared with the native peptide, while N-acetyl-GLP-1 was significantly more potent at stimulating insulin secretion. These studies indicate that N-terminal modification of GLP-1 results in DPP IV-resistant and biologically potent forms of GLP-1. The particularly powerful antihyperglycaemic action of N-pyroglutamyl-GLP-1 shows potential for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.