Advanced Glycation End Products Are Direct Modulators of β-Cell Function

  1. Josephine M. Forbes1,3,12
  1. 1Division of Diabetes Complications, Diabetes and Metabolism Division, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2Department of Medicine, (AH/NH) University of Melbourne, Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Heidelberg Heights, Australia
  3. 3Department of Immunology and Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  4. 4Division of Stem Cell Regulation Research, Osaka University Medical School, Osaka, Japan
  5. 5St. Vincent’s Institute, Fitzroy, Australia
  6. 6Heart Failure Research Group, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
  7. 7Clinical Physiology, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
  8. 8Division of Autoimmunity and Transplantation, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Parkville, Australia
  9. 9Department of Diabetes Genetics, Folkhälsan Institute of Genetics, Folkhälsan Research Center, Biomedicum, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  10. 10Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland
  11. 11Hospital for Children and Adolescents, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  12. 12Mater Medical Research Institute, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Corresponding author: Josephine M. Forbes, josephine.forbes{at}


OBJECTIVE Excess accumulation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) contributes to aging and chronic diseases. We aimed to obtain evidence that exposure to AGEs plays a role in the development of type 1 diabetes (T1D).

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS The effect of AGEs was examined on insulin secretion by MIN6N8 cells and mouse islets and in vivo in three separate rodent models: AGE-injected or high AGE–fed Sprague-Dawley rats and nonobese diabetic (NODLt) mice. Rodents were also treated with the AGE-lowering agent alagebrium.

RESULTS β-Cells exposed to AGEs displayed acute glucose-stimulated insulin secretory defects, mitochondrial abnormalities including excess superoxide generation, a decline in ATP content, loss of MnSOD activity, reduced calcium flux, and increased glucose uptake, all of which were improved with alagebrium treatment or with MnSOD adenoviral overexpression. Isolated mouse islets exposed to AGEs had decreased glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, increased mitochondrial superoxide production, and depletion of ATP content, which were improved with alagebrium or with MnTBAP, an SOD mimetic. In rats, transient or chronic exposure to AGEs caused progressive insulin secretory defects, superoxide generation, and β-cell death, ameliorated with alagebrium. NODLt mice had increased circulating AGEs in association with an increase in islet mitochondrial superoxide generation, which was prevented by alagebrium, which also reduced the incidence of autoimmune diabetes. Finally, at-risk children who progressed to T1D had higher AGE concentrations than matched nonprogressors.

CONCLUSIONS These findings demonstrate that AGEs directly cause insulin secretory defects, most likely by impairing mitochondrial function, which may contribute to the development of T1D.

  • Received July 27, 2010.
  • Accepted July 13, 2011.

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