Regulation of pancreatic β-cell survival by nitric oxide: Clinical relevance

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Abstract

The reduction of pancreatic β-cell mass is an important factor in the development of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate the maintenance of pancreatic β-cell mass as well as β-cell death is necessary for the establishment of therapeutic strategies. In this context, nitric oxide (NO) is a diatomic, gaseous, highly reactive molecule with biological activity that participates in the regulation of pancreatic β-cell mass. Two types of cellular responses can be distinguished depending on the level of NO production. First, pancreatic β-cells exposed to inflammatory cytokines, lipid stress or hyperglycaemia produce high concentrations of NO, mainly due to the activation of inducible NO synthase (iNOS), thus promoting cell death. Meanwhile, under homeostatic conditions, low concentrations of NO, constitutively produced by endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), promote cell survival. Here, we will discuss the current knowledge of the NO-dependent mechanisms activated during cellular responses, emphasizing those related to the regulation of cell survival.

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