, Volume 54, Issue 5, pp 1087-1097
Date: 27 Jan 2011

Defects in beta cell Ca2+ signalling, glucose metabolism and insulin secretion in a murine model of KATP channel-induced neonatal diabetes mellitus

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

Mutations that render ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channels insensitive to ATP inhibition cause neonatal diabetes mellitus. In mice, these mutations cause insulin secretion to be lost initially and, as the disease progresses, beta cell mass and insulin content also disappear. We investigated whether defects in calcium signalling alone are sufficient to explain short-term and long-term islet dysfunction.

Methods

We examined the metabolic, electrical and insulin secretion response in islets from mice that become diabetic after induction of ATP-insensitive Kir6.2 expression. To separate direct effects of KATP overactivity on beta cell function from indirect effects of prolonged hyperglycaemia, normal glycaemia was maintained by protective exogenous islet transplantation.

Results

In endogenous islets from protected animals, glucose-dependent elevations of intracellular free-calcium activity ([Ca2+]i) were severely blunted. Insulin content of these islets was normal, and sulfonylureas and KCl stimulated increased [Ca2+]i. In the absence of transplant protection, [Ca2+]i responses were similar, but glucose metabolism and redox state were dramatically altered; sulfonylurea- and KCl-stimulated insulin secretion was also lost, because of systemic effects induced by long-term hyperglycaemia and/or hypoinsulinaemia. In both cases, [Ca2+]i dynamics were synchronous across the islet. After reduction of gap-junction coupling, glucose-dependent [Ca2+]i and insulin secretion was partially restored, indicating that excitability of weakly expressing cells is suppressed by cells expressing mutants, via gap-junctions.

Conclusions/interpretation

The primary defect in KATP-induced neonatal diabetes mellitus is failure of glucose metabolism to elevate [Ca2+]i, which suppresses insulin secretion and mildly alters islet glucose metabolism. Loss of insulin content and mitochondrial dysfunction are secondary to the long-term hyperglycaemia and/or hypoinsulinaemia that result from the absence of glucose-dependent insulin secretion.

R. K. P. Benninger and M. S. Remedi contributed equally to this study.