Skills and Expertise
Research Items (12)
Assessing the response of pancreatic islet cells to glucose stimulation is important for understanding β-cell function. Zebrafish are a promising model for studies of metabolism in general, including stimulus-secretion coupling in the pancreas. We used transgenic zebrafish embryos expressing a genetically-encoded Ca²⁺ sensor in pancreatic β-cells to monitor a key step in glucose induced insulin secretion; the elevations of intracellular [Ca²⁺]i. In vivo and ex vivo analyses of [Ca²⁺]i demonstrate that β-cell responsiveness to glucose is well established in late embryogenesis and that embryonic β-cells also respond to free fatty acid and amino acid challenges. In vivo imaging of whole embryos further shows that indirect glucose administration, for example by yolk injection, results in a slow and asynchronous induction of β-cell [Ca²⁺]i responses, while intravenous glucose injections cause immediate and islet-wide synchronized [Ca²⁺]i fluctuations. Finally, we demonstrate that embryos with disrupted mutation of the CaV1.2 channel gene cacna1c are hyperglycemic and that this phenotype is associated with glucose-independent [Ca²⁺]i fluctuation in β-cells. The data reveal a novel central role of cacna1c in β-cell specific stimulus-secretion coupling in zebrafish and demonstrate that the novel approach we propose – to monitor the [Ca²⁺]i dynamics in embryonic β-cells in vivo – will help to expand the understanding of β-cell physiological functions in healthy and diseased states.
- Sep 2018
Gain-of-function (GOF) mutations in ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channel cause neonatal diabetes. Despite the well-established genetic root of the disease, the pathways modulating disease severity and treatment effectiveness remain poorly understood. Patient phenotypes can vary from severe diabetes to remission, even in individuals with the same mutation and within the same family; suggesting that subtle modifiers can influence disease outcome. We have tested the underlying mechanism of transient vs permanent neonatal diabetes in KATP-GOF mice treated for 14-days with glibenclamide. Some KATP-GOF mice show remission of diabetes and enhanced insulin sensitivity long-after diabetes treatment ended, compared with severely insulin-resistant non-remitting mice. However, insulin sensitivities are not different between the two groups before or during diabetes induction, suggesting that improved sensitivity is a consequence, rather than the cause of remission; implicating other factors modulating glucose early in diabetes progression. Leptin, glucagon, insulin and GLP-1 are not different between remitters and non-remitters. However, liver glucose production is significantly reduced before transgene induction in remitter, relative to non-remitter and non-treated mice. Surprisingly, while subsequent remitter animals exhibited normal serum cytokines, non-remitter mice showed increased cytokines, which paralleled the divergence in blood glucose. Together, these results suggest that systemic inflammation may play a role in the transient vs permanent form of neonatal diabetes. Supporting this conclusion, treatment with the anti-inflammatory Meloxicam significantly increased the fraction of remitting animals. Beyond neonatal diabetes, the potential for inflammation and glucose production to exacerbate other forms of diabetes from a compensated state to a glucotoxic state should be considered.
In clinical trials inhibition of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) raises HDL cholesterol levels but doesn't robustly improve cardiovascular outcomes. About 2/3 of trial participants were obese. Lower plasma CETP activity is associated with increased cardiovascular risk in human studies, and protective aspects of CETP have been observed in mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) with regard to metabolic outcomes. To define if CETP inhibition has different effects depending on the presence of obesity, we performed short-term anacetrapib treatment in chow- and HFD-fed CETP-transgenic mice. Anacetrapib raised HDL cholesterol and improved aspects of HDL functionality including reverse cholesterol transport and HDL's anti-oxidative capacity in HFD-fed mice better than in chow-fed mice. Anacetrapib worsened the anti-inflammatory capacity of HDL in HFD-fed mice. The HDL proteome was markedly different with anacetrapib treatment in HFD-fed vs. chow-fed mice. Despite benefits on HDL, anacetrapib led to liver triglyceride accumulation and insulin resistance in HFD-fed mice. Overall, our results support a physiologic importance of CETP in protecting from fatty liver, and demonstrate a context-selectivity of CETP inhibition that might be important in obese subjects.
ATP-sensitive potassium channels (KATP channels) are critical nutrient sensors in many mammalian tissues. In the pancreas, KATP channels are essential for coupling glucose metabolism to insulin secretion. While orthologous genes for many components of metabolism–secretion coupling in mammals are present in lower vertebrates, their expression, functionality and ultimate impact on body glucose homeostasis are unclear. In this paper, we demonstrate that zebrafish islet β-cells express functional KATP channels of similar subunit composition, structure and metabolic sensitivity to their mammalian counterparts. We further show that pharmacological activation of native zebrafish KATP using diazoxide, a specific KATP channel opener, is sufficient to disturb glucose tolerance in adult zebrafish. That β-cell KATP channel expression and function are conserved between zebrafish and mammals illustrates the evolutionary conservation of islet metabolic sensing from fish to humans, and lends relevance to the use of zebrafish to model islet glucose sensing and diseases of membrane excitability such as neonatal diabetes.
Recovery of functional β-cell mass continues to be an ongoing challenge in treating diabetes. Initial work studying β-cells suggested apoptotic β-cell death as a main contributor for the loss of β-cell mass in diabetes. Restoration of β-cells either by transplant or stimulating proliferation of remaining β-cells or precursors would then logically be a viable therapeutic option for diabetes. However, recent work has highlighted the inherent β-cell plasticity and the critical role of loss of β-cell identity in diabetes, and has suggested that β-cells fail to maintain a fully differentiated glucose-responsive and drug-responsive state, particularly in diabetic individuals with poorly controlled, long-lasting periods of hyperglycaemia. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of loss of β-cell identity and conversion in other cell types, as well as how to regain their mature differentiated functional state, is critical to develop novel therapeutic strategies to prevent or reverse these processes. In this review, we discuss the role of plasticity and loss of β-cell identity in diabetes, the current understanding of mechanisms involved in altering this mature functional β-cell state and potential progresses to identify novel therapeutic targets providing better opportunities for slowing or preventing diabetes progression.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, and progressive β cell dysfunction. Excess glucose and lipid impair β cell function in islet cell lines, cultured rodent and human islets, and in vivo rodent models. Here, we examined the mechanistic consequences of glucotoxic and lipotoxic conditions on human islets in vivo and developed and/or used 3 complementary models that allowed comparison of the effects of hyperglycemic and/or insulin-resistant metabolic stress conditions on human and mouse islets, which responded quite differently to these challenges. Hyperglycemia and/or insulin resistance impaired insulin secretion only from human islets in vivo. In human grafts, chronic insulin resistance decreased antioxidant enzyme expression and increased superoxide and amyloid formation. In human islet grafts, expression of transcription factors NKX6.1 and MAFB was decreased by chronic insulin resistance, but only MAFB decreased under chronic hyperglycemia. Knockdown of NKX6.1 or MAFB expression in a human β cell line recapitulated the insulin secretion defect seen in vivo. Contrary to rodent islet studies, neither insulin resistance nor hyperglycemia led to human β cell proliferation or apoptosis. These results demonstrate profound differences in how excess glucose or lipid influence mouse and human insulin secretion and β cell activity and show that reduced expression of key islet-enriched transcription factors is an important mediator of glucotoxicity and lipotoxicity.
The development of insulin resistance in the liver is a key event that drives dyslipidemia, and predicts diabetes and cardiovascular risk with obesity. Clinical data show that estrogen signaling in males helps prevent adiposity and insulin resistance, which may be mediated through estrogen receptor α (ERα). The tissues and pathways that mediate the benefits of estrogen signaling in males with obesity are not well defined. In female mice, ERα signaling in the liver helps to correct pathway-selective insulin resistance with estrogen treatment after ovariectomy. We assessed the importance of liver estrogen signaling in males using liver ERα knockout (LKO) mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD). We found that the LKO male mice had decreased insulin sensitivity compared to their wild-type floxed (fl/fl) littermates during hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps. Insulin failed to suppress endogenous glucose production in LKO mice, indicating liver insulin resistance. Insulin promoted glucose disappearance in LKO and fl/fl mice similarly. In the liver, insulin failed to induce phosphorylation of AKT-Ser473 and exclude FOXO1 from the nucleus in LKO mice, a pathway important for liver glucose and lipid metabolism. Liver triglycerides and diacylglycerides were also increased in LKO mice, which corresponded with dysregulation of insulin stimulated ACC phosphorylation and DGAT1/2 protein levels. Our studies demonstrate that estrogen signaling through ERα in the liver helps prevent whole-body and hepatic insulin resistance associated with HFD-feeding in males. Augmenting hepatic estrogen signaling through ERα may lessen the impact of obesity on diabetes and cardiovascular risk in males.
Cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) shuttles lipids between lipoproteins, culminating in cholesteryl ester delivery to liver and increased secretion of cholesterol as bile. Since gut bile acids promote insulin sensitivity, we aimed to define if CETP improves insulin sensitivity with high-fat feeding. CETP and nontransgenic mice of both sexes became obese. Female but not male CETP mice had increased ileal bile acid levels versus nontransgenic littermates. CETP expression protected female mice from insulin resistance but had a minimal effect in males. In liver, female CETP mice showed activation of bile acid-sensitive pathways including Erk1/2 phosphorylation and Fxr and Shp gene expression. In muscle, CETP females showed increased glycolysis, increased mRNA for Dio2, and increased Akt phosphorylation, known effects of bile acid signaling. These results suggest that CETP can ameliorate insulin resistance associated with obesity in female mice, an effect that correlates with increased gut bile acids and known bile-signaling pathways.
Mechanisms underlying changes in HDL composition caused by obesity are poorly defined, partly because mice lack expression of cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP), which shuttles triglyceride and cholesteryl ester between lipoproteins. Because menopause is associated with weight gain, altered glucose metabolism, and changes in HDL, we tested the effect of feeding a high-fat diet (HFD) and ovariectomy (OVX) on glucose metabolism and HDL composition in CETP transgenic mice. After OVX, female CETP-expressing mice had accelerated weight gain with HFD-feeding and impaired glucose tolerance by hyperglycemic clamp techniques, compared with OVX mice fed a low-fat diet (LFD). Sham-operated mice (SHAM) did not show HFD-induced weight gain and had less glucose intolerance than OVX mice. Using shotgun HDL proteomics, HFD-feeding in OVX mice had a large effect on HDL composition, including increased levels of apoA2, apoA4, apoC2, and apoC3, proteins involved in TG metabolism. These changes were associated with decreased hepatic expression of SR-B1, ABCA1, and LDL receptor, proteins involved in modulating the lipid content of HDL. In SHAM mice, there were minimal changes in HDL composition with HFD feeding. These studies suggest that the absence of ovarian hormones negatively influences the response to high-fat feeding in terms of glucose tolerance and HDL composition. CETP-expressing mice may represent a useful model to define how metabolic changes affect HDL composition and function.