Molecular Mechanisms of Toxicity and Cell Damage by Chemicals in a Human Pancreatic Beta Cell Line, 1.1B4

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Mechanisms of toxicity and cell damage were investigated in novel clonal human pancreatic beta cell line, 1.1B4, after exposure to streptozotocin, alloxan, ninhydrin, and hydrogen peroxide.


Viability, DNA damage, insulin secretion/content, [Ca2+]i, and glucokinase/hexokinase, mRNA expression were measured by MTT assay, comet assay, radioimmunoassay, fluorometric imaging plate reader, enzyme-coupled photometry, and real-time polymerase chain reaction, respectively.


Chemicals significantly reduced 1.1B4 cell viability in a time/concentration–dependent manner. Chronic 18-hour exposure decreased cellular insulin, glucokinase, and hexokinase activities. Chemicals decreased transcription of INS, GCK, PCSK1, PCSK2, and GJA1 (involved in secretory function). Insulin release and [Ca2+]i responses to nutrients and membrane-depolarizing agents were impaired. Streptozotocin and alloxan up-regulated transcription of genes, SOD1 and SOD2 (antioxidant enzymes). Ninhydrin and hydrogen peroxide up-regulated SOD2 transcription, whereas alloxan and hydrogen peroxide increased CAT transcription. Chemicals induced DNA damage, apoptosis, and increased caspase 3/7 activity. Streptozotocin and alloxan decreased transcription of BCL2 while increasing transcription of BAX. Chemicals did not affect transcription of HSPA4 and HSPA5 and nitrite production.


1.1B4 cells represent a useful model of human beta cells. Chemicals impaired 1.1B4 cell secretory function and activated antioxidant defense and apoptotic pathways without activating endoplasmic reticulum stress response/nitrosative stress.

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