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Journal: Diabetes


Although loss of functional β-cell mass is a hallmark of diabetes, no treatment approaches that halt this process are currently available. We recently identified thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) as an attractive target in this regard. Glucose and diabetes upregulate β-cell TXNIP expression, and TXNIP overexpression induces β-cell apoptosis. In contrast, genetic ablation of TXNIP promotes endogenous β-cell survival and prevents streptozotocin (STZ)- and obesity-induced diabetes. Finding an oral medication that could inhibit β-cell TXNIP expression would therefore represent a major breakthrough. We were surprised to discover that calcium channel blockers inhibited TXNIP expression in INS-1 cells and human islets and that orally administered verapamil reduced TXNIP expression and β-cell apoptosis, enhanced endogenous insulin levels, and rescued mice from STZ-induced diabetes. Verapamil also promoted β-cell survival and improved glucose homeostasis and insulin sensitivity in BTBR ob/ob mice. Our data further suggest that this verapamil-mediated TXNIP repression is conferred by reduction of intracellular calcium, inhibition of calcineurin signaling, and nuclear exclusion and decreased binding of carbohydrate response element-binding protein to the E-box repeat in the TXNIP promoter. Thus, for the first time, we have identified an oral medication that can inhibit proapoptotic β-cell TXNIP expression, enhance β-cell survival and function, and prevent and even improve overt diabetes.

Concepts: Gene, Diabetes mellitus, Insulin resistance, Calcium channel blocker, Glucose, DNA, Gene expression, Insulin


Diabetes is a chronic debilitating disease that results from insufficient production of insulin from pancreatic β-cells. Islet cell replacement can effectively treat diabetes but is currently severely limited by the reliance upon cadaveric donor tissue. We have developed a protocol to efficiently differentiate commercially available human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in vitro into a highly enriched PDX1+ pancreatic progenitor cell population that further develops in vivo to mature pancreatic endocrine cells. Immature pancreatic precursor cells were transplanted into immunodeficient mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetes, and glycemia was initially controlled with exogenous insulin. As graft-derived insulin levels increased over time, diabetic mice were weaned from exogenous insulin and human C-peptide secretion was eventually regulated by meal and glucose challenges. Similar differentiation of pancreatic precursor cells was observed after transplant in immunodeficient rats. Throughout the in vivo maturation period hESC-derived endocrine cells exhibited gene and protein expression profiles that were remarkably similar to the developing human fetal pancreas. Our findings support the feasibility of using differentiated hESCs as an alternative to cadaveric islets for treating patients with diabetes.

Concepts: Glucose, Cell, Pancreas, Stem cell, Islets of Langerhans, Cellular differentiation, Embryonic stem cell, Insulin


The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) is well recognized as an important mediator of body weight homeostasis. Activation of MC4R causes dramatic weight loss in rodent models, and mutations in human are associated with obesity. This makes MC4R a logical target for pharmacological therapy for the treatment of obesity. However, previous studies in rodents and humans have observed a broad array of side effects caused by acute treatment with MC4R agonists, including increased heart rate and blood pressure. We demonstrate that treatment with a highly-selective novel MC4R agonist (BIM-22493 or RM-493) resulted in transient decreases in food intake (35%), with persistent weight loss over 8 weeks of treatment (13.5%) in a diet-induced obese nonhuman primate model. Consistent with weight loss, these animals significantly decreased adiposity and improved glucose tolerance. Importantly, we observed no increases in blood pressure or heart rate with BIM-22493 treatment. In contrast, treatment with LY2112688, an MC4R agonist previously shown to increase blood pressure and heart rate in humans, caused increases in blood pressure and heart rate, while modestly decreasing food intake. These studies demonstrate that distinct melanocortin peptide drugs can have widely different efficacies and side effects.

Concepts: Insulin, Melanocortin 4 receptor, Nutrition, Serotonin, Adipose tissue, Proopiomelanocortin, Primate, Obesity


We hypothesized that in vitro treatment of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PB-MNCs) from diabetic patients with ephrin-B2/Fc (EFNB2) improves their proangiogenic therapeutic potential in diabetic ischemic experimental models. Diabetes was induced in nude athymic mice by streptozotocin injections. At 9 weeks after hyperglycemia, 10(5) PB-MNCs from diabetic patients, pretreated by EFNB2, were intravenously injected in diabetic mice with hindlimb ischemia. Two weeks later, the postischemic neovascularization was evaluated. The mechanisms involved were investigated by flow cytometry analysis and in vitro cell biological assays. Paw skin blood flow, angiographic score, and capillary density were significantly increased in ischemic leg of diabetic mice receiving EFNB2-activated diabetic PB-MNCs versus those receiving nontreated diabetic PB-MNCs. EFNB2 bound to PB-MNCs and increased the adhesion and transmigration of PB-MNCs. Finally, EFNB2-activated PB-MNCs raised the number of circulating vascular progenitor cells in diabetic nude mice and increased the ability of endogenous bone marrow MNCs to differentiate into cells with endothelial phenotype and enhanced their proangiogenic potential. Therefore, EFNB2 treatment of PB-MNCs abrogates the diabetes-induced stem/progenitor cell dysfunction and opens a new avenue for the clinical development of an innovative and accessible strategy in diabetic patients with critical ischemic diseases.

Concepts: Medicine, Blood, Bone marrow, Hematology, Blood vessel, Cell biology, Flow cytometry, Gene


We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and a multistage meta-analysis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in Punjabi Sikhs from India. Our discovery GWAS in 1,616 individuals (842 case subjects) was followed by in silico replication of the top 513 independent SNPs (P < 10(-3)) in Punjabi Sikhs (n = 2,819; 801 case subjects). We further replicated 66 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (P < 10(-4)) through genotyping in a Punjabi Sikh sample (n = 2,894; 1,711 case subjects). On combined meta-analysis in Sikh populations (n = 7,329; 3,354 case subjects), we identified a novel locus in association with T2D at 13q12 represented by a directly genotyped intronic SNP (rs9552911, P = 1.82 × 10(-8)) in the SGCG gene. Next, we undertook in silico replication (stage 2b) of the top 513 signals (P < 10(-3)) in 29,157 non-Sikh South Asians (10,971 case subjects) and de novo genotyping of up to 31 top signals (P < 10(-4)) in 10,817 South Asians (5,157 case subjects) (stage 3b). In combined South Asian meta-analysis, we observed six suggestive associations (P < 10(-5) to < 10(-7)), including SNPs at HMG1L1/CTCFL, PLXNA4, SCAP, and chr5p11. Further evaluation of 31 top SNPs in 33,707 East Asians (16,746 case subjects) (stage 3c) and 47,117 Europeans (8,130 case subjects) (stage 3d), and joint meta-analysis of 128,127 individuals (44,358 case subjects) from 27 multiethnic studies, did not reveal any additional loci nor was there any evidence of replication for the new variant. Our findings provide new evidence on the presence of a population-specific signal in relation to T2D, which may provide additional insights into T2D pathogenesis.

Concepts: SNP array, South Asia, Punjab region, British Asian, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Genotyping, Genome-wide association study, Single-nucleotide polymorphism


Several studies have identified nearly 40 different type 2 diabetes susceptibility loci, mainly in European populations, but few of them have been evaluated in the Mexican population. The aim of this study was to examine the extent to which 24 common genetic variants previously associated with type 2 diabetes are associated in Mexican Mestizos. Twenty-four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in or near genes (KCNJ11, PPARG, TCF7L2, SLC30A8, HHEX, CDKN2A/2B, CDKAL1, IGF2BP2, ARHGEF11, JAZF1, CDC123/CAMK1D, FTO, TSPAN8/LGR5, KCNQ1, THADA, ADAMTS9, NOTCH2, NXPH1, RORA, UBQLNL, and RALGPS2) were genotyped in Mexican Mestizos. A case-control association study comprising 1,027 type 2 diabetic individuals and 990 control individuals was conducted. To account for population stratification, a panel of 104 ancestry-informative markers was analyzed. Association to type 2 diabetes was found for rs13266634 (SLC30A8), rs7923837 (HHEX), rs10811661 (CDKN2A/2B), rs4402960 (IGF2BP2), rs12779790 (CDC123/CAMK1D), and rs2237892 (KCNQ1). In addition, rs7754840 (CDKAL1) was associated in the nonobese type 2 diabetes subgroup, and for rs7903146 (TCF7L2), association was observed for early-onset type 2 diabetes. Lack of association for the rest of the variants may have resulted from insufficient power to detect smaller allele effects.

Concepts: Diabetes mellitus, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Single-nucleotide polymorphism, Gene, Bioinformatics, Population genetics, Mestizo, DNA


The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of liver glycogen loading on net hepatic glycogen synthesis during hyperinsulinemia or hepatic portal vein glucose infusion in vivo. Liver glycogen levels were supercompensated (SCGly) in two groups (using intraportal fructose infusion) but not in two others (Gly) during hyperglycemic-normoinsulinemia. Following a 2-h control period during which fructose infusion was stopped, there was a 2-h experimental period in which the response to hyperglycemia plus either 4× basal insulin (INS) or portal vein glucose infusion (PoG) was measured. Increased hepatic glycogen reduced the percent of glucose taken up by the liver that was deposited in glycogen (74 ± 3 vs. 53 ± 5% in Gly+INS and SCGly+INS, respectively, and 72 ± 3 vs. 50 ± 6% in Gly+PoG and SCGly+PoG, respectively). The reduction in liver glycogen synthesis in SCGly+INS was accompanied by a decrease in both insulin signaling and an increase in AMPK activation, whereas only the latter was observed in SCGly+PoG. These data indicate that liver glycogen loading impairs glycogen synthesis regardless of the signal used to stimulate it.

Concepts: Hepatic portal system, Cirrhosis, Portal venous system, Insulin, Hepatic portal vein, Glucose, Liver, Glycogen


The synthetic retinoid, Fenretinide (FEN), inhibits obesity and insulin resistance in mice and is in early clinical trials for treatment of insulin resistance in obese humans. We aimed to determine whether alterations in retinoic acid (RA)-responsive genes contribute to the beneficial effects of FEN. We examined the effect of FEN on 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation and alterations in gene expression in C57Bl/6 and retinaldehyde dehydrogenase (RALDH)1 knockout (KO) mice fed a high-fat (HF) diet. FEN completely inhibited adipocyte differentiation by blocking CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) α/peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) γ-mediated induction of downstream genes and upregulating RA-responsive genes like cellular retinol-binding protein-1. In mice fed a HF diet, RA-responsive genes were markedly increased in adipose, liver, and hypothalamus, with short-term and long-term FEN treatment. In adipose, FEN inhibited the downregulation of PPARγ and improved insulin sensitivity and the levels of adiponectin, resistin, and serum RBP (RBP4). FEN inhibited hyperleptinemia in vivo and leptin expression in adipocytes. Surprisingly, hypothalamic neuropeptide Y expression was completely suppressed, suggesting a central effect of FEN to normalize hyperglycemia. Moreover, FEN induced RA-responsive genes in RALDH1 KO mice, demonstrating that FEN can augment RA signaling when RA synthesis is impaired. We show that FEN-mediated beneficial effects are through alterations in retinoid homeostasis genes, and these are strong candidates as therapeutic targets for the treatment of obesity and insulin resistance.

Concepts: Gene expression, Diabetes mellitus, Insulin, Insulin resistance, Gene, Leptin, Adipose tissue, Obesity


Excess ectopic fat storage is linked to type 2 diabetes. The importance of dietary fat composition for ectopic fat storage in humans is unknown. We investigated liver fat accumulation and body composition during overfeeding saturated (SFA) or polyunsaturated (PUFA) fat. LIPOGAIN was a double-blind, parallel-group, randomized trial. Thirty-nine young and normal-weight individuals were overfed muffins high in SFA (palm oil) or n-6 PUFA (sunflower oil) for 7 weeks. Liver fat, visceral (VAT), subcutaneous abdominal (SAT), and total adipose tissue (TAT), pancreatic fat, and lean tissue was assessed by MRI. Transcriptomics were performed in SAT. Both groups gained similar weight. SFA however markedly increased liver fat compared with PUFA and caused 2-fold larger increase in VAT than PUFA. Conversely, PUFA caused a nearly 3-fold larger increase in lean tissue than SFA. Increase in liver fat directly correlated with changes in plasma SFA and inversely with PUFA. Genes involved in regulating energy dissipation, insulin resistance, body composition and fat cell differentiation in SAT were differentially regulated between diets, and associated with increased PUFA in SAT. In conclusion, overeating SFA promotes hepatic and visceral fat storage whereas excess energy from PUFA may instead promote lean tissue in healthy humans.

Concepts: Insulin resistance, Polyunsaturated fat, Obesity, Insulin, Adipose tissue, Saturated fat, Nutrition, Fat


In rodents, brown adipose tissue (BAT) regulates cold- (CIT) and diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT). Whether BAT recruitment is reversible and how it impacts on energy metabolism has not been investigated in humans. We examined the effects of temperature acclimation on BAT, energy balance and substrate metabolism in a prospective crossover study of 4-month duration, consisting of 4 consecutive blocks of 1-month overnight temperature acclimation [24°C (month 1) → 19°C (month 2) → 24°C (month 3) → 27°C (month 4)] of five healthy men in a temperature-controlled research facility. Sequential monthly acclimation modulated BAT reversibly, boosting and suppressing its abundance and activity in mild cold and warm conditions (p<0.05), respectively, independent of seasonal fluctuations (p<0.01). BAT-acclimation did not alter CIT but was accompanied by DIT (p<0.05) and post-prandial insulin sensitivity enhancement (p<0.05), evident only after cold-acclimation. Circulating and adipose tissue, but not skeletal muscle, expression levels of leptin and adiponectin displayed reciprocal changes concordant with cold-acclimated insulin sensitization. These results suggest regulatory links between BAT thermal plasticity and glucose metabolism in humans, opening avenues to harnessing BAT for metabolic benefits.

Concepts: Insulin, Brown adipose tissue, Insulin resistance, Metabolism, Glycogen, Muscle, Obesity, Adipose tissue