NADPH Oxidase NOX2 Defines a New Antagonistic Role for Reactive Oxygen Species and cAMP/PKA in the Regulation of Insulin Secretion

  1. Pierre Maechler1
  1. 1Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, University of Geneva Medical Center, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2Department of Pathology and Immunology, University of Geneva Medical Center, Geneva, Switzerland
  3. 3Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Corresponding authors: Pierre Maechler, pierre.maechler{at}, and Karl-Heinz Krause, karl-heinz.krause{at}
  1. K.-H.K. and P.M. contributed equally to this work.


In insulin-secreting cells, expression of NADPH oxidase (NOX), a potent source of ROS, has been reported, along with controversial findings regarding its function. Here, the role of NOXs was investigated: first by expression and cellular localization in mouse and human pancreatic islets, and then by functional studies in islets isolated from Nox isoform–specific knockout mice. Both human and mouse β-cells express NOX, in particular NOX2. With use of Nox isoform–specific knockout mice, functional analysis revealed Nox2 as the predominant isoform. In human islets, NOX2 colocalized with both insulin granules and endosome/lysosome membranes. Nox2-deficient islets stimulated with 22.8 mmol/L glucose exhibited potentiation of insulin release compared with controls, an effect confirmed with in vitro knockdown of Nox2. The enhanced secretory function in Nox2-deficient islets was associated with both lower superoxide levels and elevated cAMP concentrations. In control islets, GLP-1 and other cAMP inducers suppressed glucose-induced ROS production similarly to Nox2 deficiency. Inhibiting cAMP-dependent protein kinase reduced the secretory response in Nox2-null islets, although not in control islets. This study ascribes a new role for NOX2 in pancreatic β-cells as negative modulator of the secretory response, reducing cAMP/PKA signaling secondary to ROS generation. Results also show reciprocal inhibition between the cAMP/PKA pathway and ROS.


  • Received January 17, 2012.
  • Accepted May 16, 2012.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 61 no. 11 2842-2850
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