Francesca M Couto

San Diego State University, San Diego, California, United States

Are you Francesca M Couto?

Claim your profile

Publications (5)17.07 Total impact

  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Pancreatic beta-cell loss through apoptosis represents a key factor in the pathogenesis of diabetes; however, no effective approaches to block this process and preserve endogenous beta-cell mass are currently available. To study the role of thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP), a proapoptotic beta-cell factor we recently identified, we used HcB-19 (TXNIP nonsense mutation) and beta-cell-specific TXNIP knockout (bTKO) mice. Interestingly, HcB-19 mice demonstrate increased adiposity, but have lower blood glucose levels and increased pancreatic beta-cell mass (as assessed by morphometry). Moreover, HcB-19 mice are resistant to streptozotocin-induced diabetes. When intercrossed with obese, insulin-resistant, and diabetic mice, double-mutant BTBRlep(ob/ob)txnip(hcb/hcb) are even more obese, but are protected against diabetes and beta-cell apoptosis, resulting in a 3-fold increase in beta-cell mass. Beta-cell-specific TXNIP deletion also enhanced beta-cell mass (P<0.005) and protected against diabetes, and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick end labeling (TUNEL) revealed a approximately 50-fold reduction in beta-cell apoptosis in streptozotocin-treated bTKO mice. We further discovered that TXNIP deficiency induces Akt/Bcl-xL signaling and inhibits mitochondrial beta-cell death, suggesting that these mechanisms may mediate the beta-cell protective effects of TXNIP deficiency. These results suggest that lowering beta-cell TXNIP expression could serve as a novel strategy for the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes by promoting endogenous beta-cell survival.
    The FASEB Journal 06/2008; 22(10):3581-94. · 5.70 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Exenatide (Ex-4) is an antidiabetic drug that acts through the glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor and has recently been approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Ex-4 also has been shown to affect beta cell gene expression and increase beta cell mass in rodent models of type 1 diabetes mellitus, but the mechanisms are not fully understood. We therefore analyzed the pathways affected by Ex-4 in human islets by using oligonucleotide microarrays and the PathwayStudio software (Ariadne Genomics, Rockville, MD). We identified the JAK1-STAT1 pathway as a novel target of Ex-4 and confirmed the Ex-4-mediated down-regulation of JAK1 and STAT1 by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in human islets and INS-1 cells. JAK1-STAT1 is the major signaling pathway mediating the interferon gamma effects on beta cell apoptosis in type 1 diabetes mellitus. Thus, these findings suggest that Ex-4 treatment may also be beneficial in type 1 diabetes mellitus, where it may help protect beta cells from cytokine-induced cell death by inhibiting JAK1-STAT1.
    Metabolism 08/2007; 56(7):915-8. · 3.10 Impact Factor
  • Alexandra H Minn, Francesca M Couto, Anath Shalev
    [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Glucose effects on cellular functions such as gene expression require, in general, glucose metabolism at least to glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P). However, the example of thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP), a glucose-regulated gene involved in the cellular redox state and pancreatic beta cell apoptosis, demonstrates that this rule may not always apply. We found that aside form glucose, the nonmetabolizable sugars 2-deoxyglucose, which is still converted to G-6-P as well as 3-O-methylglucose (3-MG), which cannot be phosphorylated by glucokinase, stimulate TXNIP expression. In contrast, incubation of INS-1 beta cells with equimolar amounts (25 mM) of l-glucose or mannitol had no effect on TXNIP expression as measured by real-time RT-PCR, eliminating the possibility of an osmotic effect. Also, glucose uptake into the cell is critical because phloretin, an inhibitor of glucose transporter 2, blunted the glucose effects. Moreover, the 3-MG effect was not restricted to a cell line and was observed in 293 cells and primary human islets. Incubation of INS-1 cells with 30mM mannoheptulose, an inhibitor of glucose metabolism, blunted all glucose-induced gene expression but left the 3-MG effects unaltered. Using transient transfection studies and deletion constructs of the human TXNIP promoter, we found that the effects of glucose and 3-MG were dependent on the same region of the TXNIP promoter containing an E-box repeat carbohydrate response element (ChoRE). Thus, these findings provide the first evidence for regulation of gene expression by 3-MG, which is independent of glucose metabolism and suggest that glucose and 3-MG regulate transcription by two distinct pathways converging at a common ChoRE.
    Biochemistry 10/2006; 45(37):11047-51. · 3.38 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Exenatide (Ex-4) is a novel anti-diabetic drug that stimulates insulin secretion and enhances beta-cell mass, but the mechanisms involved are not fully understood. We found that Ex-4 protects INS-1 beta-cells against oxidative stress-induced apoptosis (TUNEL) and also reduces expression (mRNA and protein) of thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP), a pro-apoptotic factor involved in beta-cell glucose toxicity and oxidative stress. This reduction was observed in INS-1 cells, mouse, and human islets as well as in wild-type mice receiving Ex-4 and was accompanied by decreased expression of the apoptotic factors caspase-3 and Bax. To determine whether Ex-4-mediated TXNIP reduction is critical for this inhibition of apoptosis, we stably overexpressed TXNIP in INS-1 cells, which completely blunted the anti-apoptotic Ex-4 effects. Thus, Ex-4 inhibits apoptosis by reducing TXNIP expression and early initiation of Ex-4 treatment may help preserve endogenous beta-cell mass, protect against oxidative stress, and delay type 2 diabetes progression.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 09/2006; 346(3):1067-74. · 2.41 Impact Factor
  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To report a case of calciphylaxis in the absence of renal failure in a patient with secondary hyperparathyroidism and low calcium/phosphorus product, in whom total parathyroidectomy resulted in relief of pain and healing of ulcerations. We present the clinical, laboratory, and pathologic findings in a 62-year-old woman with calciphylaxis in the absence of end-stage renal disease. A 62-year-old woman presented with painful nonhealing bilateral calf ulcerations. Pathology examination of tissue specimens from surgical d├ębridement revealed intravascular calcification, consistent with calciphylaxis. Laboratory investigation revealed normal renal function; however, hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia were present--a corrected serum calcium level of 7.5 mg/dL (normal, 8.5 to 10.2) and a serum phosphorus value of 1.0 mg/dL (normal, 2.5 to 4.5). These abnormalities were likely due to vitamin D deficiency, evidenced by a 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 14 ng/mL, which provoked an elevation of the serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentration, documented by an intact PTH of 213 pg/mL (normal, 15 to 65) and a whole PTH (1-84 PTH) of 70.6 pg/mL (normal, 7 to 36). Her quality of life was severely impaired, not only by the ulcerations but also by intractable pain that necessitated epidural analgesia during the hospitalization. The patient underwent total parathyroidectomy and transcervical thymectomy, with cryopreservation of parathyroid tissue. One year after the parathyroidectomy, the patient had no recurrence of calciphylaxis. This case suggests that despite the potential complex pathophysiologic aspects of calciphylaxis, even in the absence of both renal failure and an elevated calcium/phosphorus product, early parathyroidectomy in patients with appreciably increased PTH levels may improve wound healing and diminish pain.
    Endocrine Practice 12(4):406-10. · 2.49 Impact Factor