, 14:1389 | Cite as

Beta cell apoptosis in diabetes

  • Helen E. Thomas
  • Mark D. McKenzie
  • Eveline Angstetra
  • Peter D. Campbell
  • Thomas W. Kay
Diabetes and Apoptosis


Apoptosis of beta cells is a feature of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes as well as loss of islets after transplantation. In type 1 diabetes, beta cells are destroyed by immunological mechanisms. In type 2 diabetes abnormal levels of metabolic factors contribute to beta cell failure and subsequent apoptosis. Loss of beta cells after islet transplantation is due to many factors including the stress associated with islet isolation, primary graft non-function and allogeneic graft rejection. Irrespective of the exact mediators, highly conserved intracellular pathways of apoptosis are triggered. This review will outline the molecular mediators of beta cell apoptosis and the intracellular pathways activated.


Diabetes Pancreatic beta cells Islet transplantation Apoptosis 



Type 1 diabetes mellitus


Cytotoxic T lymphocyte




Non-obese diabetic


Tumor necrosis factor


TNF receptor


Fas Ligand


Fas-associated death domain


Bcl-homology domain 3


Autoimmune lymphoproliferation syndrome




Generalized lymphoproliferative disease




IL-1 receptor




IFNγ receptor


Islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein


Suppressor of cytokine signaling


c-Jun N-terminal kinase


Nitric oxide


Inducible NO synthase


X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis


Reactive oxygen species


Glutathione peroxidase


Superoxide dismutase


Instant blood-mediated inflammatory reaction


Islet amyloid polypeptide


Thioredoxin-interacting protein


Type 2 diabetes mellitus


C/EBP homologous protein


Endoplasmic reticulum


PKR-like ER kinase



We thank Dr. Janette Allison for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Australian Government through the Department of Health and Ageing.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen E. Thomas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mark D. McKenzie
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eveline Angstetra
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter D. Campbell
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas W. Kay
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.St. Vincent’s Institute of Medical ResearchFitzroyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, St. Vincent’s HospitalThe University of MelbourneFitzroy, MelbourneAustralia

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