[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hereditary hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder of increased iron absorption that can result in cirrhosis, diabetes, and other morbidities. We have investigated the mechanisms underlying supranormal glucose tolerance despite decreased insulin secretion in a mouse model of hemochromatosis with deletion of the hemochromatosis gene (Hfe(-/-)). Hfe(-/-) mice on 129Sv or C57BL/6J backgrounds have decreased glucose excursions after challenge compared with controls. In the C57BL/6J/ Hfe(-/-), for example, incremental area under the glucose curve is reduced 52% (p < 0.001) despite decreased serum insulin, and homeostasis model assessment insulin resistance is decreased 50% (p < 0.05). When studied by the euglycemic clamp technique 129Sv/Hfe(-/-) mice exhibit a 20% increase in glucose disposal (p < 0.05) at submaximal insulin but no increase at maximal insulin compared with wild types. [1,2-(13)C]D-glucose clearance from plasma is significantly increased in Hfe(-/-) mice (19%, p < 0.05), and lactate derived from glycolysis is elevated 5.1-fold in Hfe(-/-) mice (p < 0.0001). Basal but not insulin-stimulated glucose uptake is elevated in isolated soleus muscle from Hfe(-/-) mice (p < 0.03). Compared with controls Hfe(-/-) mice exhibit no differences in serum lipid, insulin, glucagon, or thyroid hormone levels; adiponectin levels are elevated 41% (p < 0.05), and the adiponectin message in adipocytes is increased 83% (p = 0.04). Insulin action measured by phosphorylation of Akt is not enhanced in muscle, but phosphorylation of AMP-dependent kinase is increased. We conclude that supranormal glucose tolerance in iron overload is characterized by increased glucose disposal that does not result from increased insulin action. Instead, the Hfe(-/-) mice demonstrate increased adiponectin levels and activation of AMP-dependent kinase.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The pathogenesis of diabetes associated with hemochromatosis is not known. We therefore examined glucose homeostasis and beta-cell function in mouse models of hemochromatosis. Mice with targeted deletion of the hemochromatosis gene (Hfe(-/-)) on the 129/Sv genetic background exhibited a 72% increase in iron content in the islets of Langerhans compared with wild-type controls. Insulin content was decreased in Hfe(-/-) mice by 35%/pancreas and 25%/islet. Comparable decreases were seen in the mRNA levels of beta-cell-specific markers, ins1, ins2, and glucose transporter 2. By 6-8 months, islets from Hfe(-/-) mice were 45% smaller, associated with increased staining for activated caspase 3 and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxy-UTP nick end labeling. Islets from Hfe(-/-) mice were also desensitized to glucose, with half-maximal stimulation of insulin secretion seen at 16.7 +/- 0.9 mm glucose in perifused islets from Hfe(-/-) mice compared with 13.1 +/- 0.6 mm glucose in wild-type animals. Carbonyl protein modification, a marker for oxidative stress, was increased by 58% in Hfe(-/-) islets. Despite decreased islet size, Hfe(-/-) mice exhibited enhanced glucose tolerance. Fasting serum insulin levels were comparable between Hfe(-/-) and Hfe(+/+) mice, but were 48% lower in the Hfe(-/-) mice 30 min after challenge. Similar results were seen in mice carrying an Hfe mutation analogous to the common human mutation (C282Y) and in mice fed excess dietary iron. Hfe(-/-)mice on the C57BL6 background exhibited decreased glucose tolerance at 10-12 months due to an inability to increase insulin levels as they aged. We conclude that iron excess results in beta-cell oxidant stress and decreased insulin secretory capacity secondary to beta-cell apoptosis and desensitization of glucose-induced insulin secretion. This abnormality alone, however, is insufficient to cause diabetes.