CFTR Influences Beta Cell Function and Insulin Secretion Through Non-Cell Autonomous Exocrine-Derived Factors

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Abstract

Although β-cell dysfunction in cystic fibrosis (CF) leads to diabetes, the mechanism by which the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) channel influences islet insulin secretion remains debated. We investigated the CFTR-dependent islet-autonomous mechanisms affecting insulin secretion by using islets isolated from CFTR knockout ferrets. Total insulin content was lower in CF as compared with wild-type (WT) islets. Furthermore, glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) was impaired in perifused neonatal CF islets, with reduced first, second, and amplifying phase secretion. Interestingly, CF islets compensated for reduced insulin content under static low-glucose conditions by secreting a larger fraction of islet insulin than WT islets, probably because of elevated SLC2A1 transcripts, increased basal inhibition of adenosine triphosphate-sensitive potassium channels (K-ATP), and elevated basal intracellular Ca2+. Interleukin (IL)-6 secretion by CF islets was higher relative to WT, and IL-6 treatment of WT ferret islets produced a CF-like phenotype with reduced islet insulin content and elevated percentage insulin secretion in low glucose. CF islets exhibited altered expression of INS, CELA3B, and several β-cell maturation and proliferation genes. Pharmacologic inhibition of CFTR reduced GSIS by WT ferret and human islets but similarly reduced insulin secretion and intracellular Ca2+ in CFTR knockout ferret islets, indicating that the mechanism of action is not through CFTR. Single-molecule fluorescent in situ hybridization, on isolated ferret and human islets and ferret pancreas, demonstrated that CFTR RNA colocalized within KRT7+ ductal cells but not endocrine cells. These results suggest that CFTR affects β-cell function via a paracrine mechanism involving proinflammatory factors secreted from islet-associated exocrine-derived cell types.

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