Molecular and Metabolic Evidence for Mitochondrial Defects Associated With β-Cell Dysfunction in a Mouse Model of Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Hongfang Lu,
  2. Vasilij Koshkin,
  3. Emma M. Allister,
  4. Armen V. Gyulkhandanyan and
  5. Michael B. Wheeler
  1. From the Departments of Physiology and Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
  1. Corresponding author: Michael B. Wheeler, michael.wheeler{at}
  1. H.L., V.K., and E.M.A. contributed equally to this work.


OBJECTIVE The inability of pancreatic β-cells to appropriately respond to glucose and secrete insulin are primary defects associated with β-cell failure in type 2 diabetes. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated as a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes; however, a link between mitochondrial dysfunction and defective insulin secretion is unclear.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We investigated the changes in islet mitochondrial function and morphology during progression from insulin resistance (3 weeks old), immediately before hyperglycemia (5 weeks old), and after diabetes onset (10 weeks old) in transgenic MKR mice compared with controls. The molecular and protein changes at 10 weeks were determined using microarray and iTRAQ proteomic screens.

RESULTS At 3 weeks, MKR mice were hyperinsulinemic but normoglycemic and β-cells showed negligible mitochondrial or morphological changes. At 5 weeks, MKR islets displayed abrogated hyperpolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm), reduced mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, slightly enlarged mitochondria, and reduced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. By 10 weeks, MKR mice were hyperglycemic and hyperinsulinemic and β-cells contained swollen mitochondria with disordered cristae. β-Cells displayed impaired stimulus-secretion coupling including reduced hyperpolarization of ΔΨm, impaired Ca2+-signaling, and reduced glucose-stimulated ATP/ADP and insulin release. Furthermore, decreased cytochrome c oxidase–dependent oxygen consumption and signs of oxidative stress were observed in diabetic islets. Protein profiling of diabetic islets revealed that 36 mitochondrial proteins were differentially expressed, including inner membrane proteins of the electron transport chain.

CONCLUSIONS We provide novel evidence for a critical role of defective mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and morphology in the pathology of insulin resistance–induced β-cell failure.


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    • Received January 28, 2009.
    • Accepted October 28, 2009.
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  1. Diabetes vol. 59 no. 2 448-459
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