Streptozotocin (STZ), a glucosamine-nitrosourea compound, has potent genotoxic effects on pancreatic β-cells and is frequently used to induce diabetes in experimental animals. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) has β-cell protective effects and is known to preserve β-cells from STZ treatment. In this study, we analyzed the mechanisms of STZ-induced diabetes and GLP-1-mediated β-cell protection in STZ-treated mice. At 1 week after multiple low-dose STZ administrations, pancreatic β-cells showed impaired insulin expression, while maintaining expression of nuclear Nkx6.1. This was accompanied by significant upregulation of p53-responsive genes in islets, including a mediator of cell cycle arrest, p21 (also known as Waf1 and Cip1). STZ treatment also suppressed expression of a wide range of genes linked with key β-cell functions or diabetes development, such as G6pc2, Slc2a2 (Glut2), Slc30a8, Neurod1, Ucn3, Gad1, Isl1, Foxa2, Vdr, Pdx1, Fkbp1b and Abcc8, suggesting global β-cell defects in STZ-treated islets. The Tmem229B, Prss53 and Ttc28 genes were highly expressed in untreated islets and strongly suppressed by STZ, suggesting their potential roles in β-cell function. When a pancreas-targeted adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector was employed for long-term Glp-1 gene delivery, pancreatic GLP-1 expression protected mice from STZ-induced diabetes through preservation of the β-cell mass. Despite its potent β-cell protective effects, however, pancreatic GLP-1 overexpression showed limited effects on the global gene expression profiles in the islets. Network analysis identified the programmed-cell-death-associated pathways as the most relevant network in Glp-1 gene therapy. Upon pancreatic GLP-1 expression, upregulation of Cxcl13 and Nptx2 was observed in STZ-damaged islets, but not in untreated normal islets. Given the pro-β-cell-survival effects of Cxcl12 (Sdf-1) in inducing GLP-1 production in α-cells, pancreatic GLP-1-mediated Cxcl13 induction might also play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of β-cells in damaged islets.
- Received March 30, 2013.
- Accepted July 1, 2013.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly cited and all further distributions of the work or adaptation are subject to the same Creative Commons License terms.