Emerging insulin resistance is normally compensated by increased insulin production of pancreatic β-cells, thereby maintaining normoglycemia. However, it is unclear whether this is achieved by adaption of β-cell function, mass, or both. Most importantly it is still unknown which of these adaptive mechanisms fail when type 2 diabetes develops. We performed longitudinal in vivo imaging of β-cell calcium dynamics and islet mass of transplanted islets of Langerhans throughout diet-induced progression from normal glucose homeostasis, over compensation of insulin resistance to pre-diabetes. The results show that compensation of insulin resistance is predominated by alterations of β-cell function, while islet mass only gradually expands. Hereby, functional adaptation is mediated by increased calcium efficacy, which involves Epac signaling. Prior to prediabetes, β-cell function displays decreased stimulated calcium dynamics, whereas islet mass continues to increase through prediabetes onset. Thus, our data reveal a predominant role of islet function with distinct contributions of triggering and amplifying pathway in the in vivo processes preceding diabetes onset. These findings support protection and recovery of β-cell function as primary goal for prevention and treatment of diabetes and provide insight into potential therapeutic targets.
- Received December 17, 2015.
- Accepted April 5, 2016.
- © 2016 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.