Molecular Medicine

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 548–558 | Cite as

Reg3α Overexpression Protects Pancreatic β Cells from Cytokine-Induced Damage and Improves Islet Transplant Outcome

  • Ying Ding
  • Yuemei Xu
  • Xuanyu Shuai
  • Xuhui Shi
  • Xiang Chen
  • Wenbin Huang
  • Yun Liu
  • Xiubin Liang
  • Zhihong Zhang
  • Dongming Su
Research Article


The process of islet transplantation for treating type 1 diabetes has been limited by the high level of graft failure. This may be overcome by locally delivering trophic factors to enhance engraftment. Regenerating islet-derived protein 3α (Reg3α) is a pancreatic secretory protein which functions as an antimicrobial peptide in control of inflammation and cell proliferation. In this study, to investigate whether Reg3α could improve islet engraftment, a marginal mass of syngeneic islets pretransduced with adenoviruses expressing Reg3α or control EGFP were transplanted under the renal capsule of streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. Mice receiving islets with elevated Reg3α production exhibited significantly lower blood glucose levels (9.057 ± 0.59 mmol/L versus 13.48 ± 0.35 mmol/L, P < 0.05) and improved glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (1.80 ± 0.17 ng/mL versus 1.16 ± 0.16 ng/mL, P < 0.05) compared with the control group. The decline of apoptotic events (0.57% ± 0.15% versus 1.06% ± 0.07%, P < 0.05) and increased β-cell proliferation (0.70% ± 0.10% versus 0.36% ± 0.14%, P < 0.05) were confirmed in islet grafts overexpressing Reg3α by morphometric analysis. Further experiments showed that Reg3α production dramatically protected cultured islets and pancreatic β cells from cytokine-induced apoptosis and the impairment of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Moreover, exposure to cytokines led to the activation of MAPKs in pancreatic β cells, which was reversed by Reg3α overexpression in contrast to control group. These results strongly suggest that Reg3α could enhance islet engraftments through its cytoprotective effect and advance the therapeutic efficacy of islet transplantation.



We thank JL Liu from McGill University Health Centre for the kind gift of plasmid pcDNA3.1-Reg3α. Also we would like to thank YB Ge from Nanjing Medical University and P Sun from Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica for excellent technical assistance with histology and islet isolation. We are grateful to X Han, XR Wang and H Zhou from Nanjing Medical University for helpful discussion and valuable advice during the development of the study. This research was supported by the grants from National Basic Research Program of China (2011CB504000, 973 Program), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81070656, 81170252, 81170715), the Open Research Project of Shanghai Key Laboratory of Diabetes Mellitus (SHKLD-KF-1102) and the Distinguished Medical Experts Program of Jiangsu Province, China.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Ying Ding
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yuemei Xu
    • 2
  • Xuanyu Shuai
    • 2
  • Xuhui Shi
    • 2
  • Xiang Chen
    • 3
  • Wenbin Huang
    • 4
  • Yun Liu
    • 5
  • Xiubin Liang
    • 5
  • Zhihong Zhang
    • 1
  • Dongming Su
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PathologyThe First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of PathologyNanjing Medical UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Center of Cellular TherapyThe Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical UniversityNanjingChina
  4. 4.Department of PathologyNanjing First HospitalNanjingChina
  5. 5.Center of Metabolic ResearchNanjing Medical UniversityNanjingChina

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