, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 508-519
Date: 23 Dec 2012

The glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist exenatide restores impaired pro-islet amyloid polypeptide processing in cultured human islets: implications in type 2 diabetes and islet transplantation

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

Islet amyloid, formed by aggregation of human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP), is associated with beta cell death in type 2 diabetes as well as in cultured and transplanted human islets. Impaired prohIAPP processing due to beta cell dysfunction is implicated in hIAPP aggregation. We examined whether the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonist exenatide can restore impaired prohIAPP processing and reduce hIAPP aggregation in cultured human islets and preserve beta cell function/mass during culture conditions used in clinical islet transplantation.

Methods

Isolated human islets (n = 10 donors) were cultured with or without exenatide in normal or elevated glucose for 2 or 7 days. Beta cell apoptosis, proliferation, mass, function, cJUN N-terminal kinase (JNK) and protein kinase B (PKB) activation and amyloid formation were assessed. ProhIAPP, its intermediates and mature hIAPP were detected.

Results

Exenatide-treated islets had markedly lower JNK and caspase-3 activation and beta cell apoptosis, resulting in higher beta/alpha cell ratio and beta cell area than non-treated cultured islets. Exenatide improved beta cell function, manifested as higher insulin response to glucose and insulin content, compared with non-treated cultured islets. Phospho-PKB immunoreactivity was detectable in exenatide-treated but not untreated cultured islets. Islet culture caused impaired prohIAPP processing with decreased mature hIAPP and increased NH2-terminally unprocessed prohIAPP levels resulting in higher release of immature hIAPP. Exenatide restored prohIAPP processing and reduced hIAPP aggregation in cultured islets.

Conclusions/interpretation

Exenatide treatment enhances survival and function of cultured human islets and restores impaired prohIAPP processing in normal and elevated glucose conditions thereby reducing hIAPP aggregation. GLP-1R agonists may preserve beta cells in conditions associated with islet amyloid formation.

Y. J. Park and Z. Ao contributed equally to these studies.