Studies in animal models of type 2 diabetes have shown that glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists prevent β-cell loss. Whether GLP-1 mediates β-cell survival via the key lysosomal-mediated process of autophagy is unknown.
Here we report that treatment of INS-1E β-cells and primary islets with glucolipotoxicity (0.5mmol/l palmitate, 25mmol/l glucose) increases LC3 II, a marker of autophagy. Further analysis indicates a blockage in autophagic flux associated with lysosomal dysfunction. Accumulation of defective lysosomes leads to lysosomal membrane permeabilisation (LMP) and release of Cathepsin D, which contributes to cell death. Our data further demonstrated defects in autophagic flux and lysosomal staining in human samples of type 2 diabetes. Co-treatment with the GLP-1 receptor agonist exendin-4 reversed the lysosomal dysfunction, relieving the impairment in autophagic flux and further stimulated autophagy. siRNA knockdown showed the restoration of autophagic flux is also essential for the protective effects of exendin-4.
Collectively, our data highlights lysosomal dysfunction as a critical mediator of β-cell loss and shows that exendin-4 improves cell survival via restoration of lysosomal function and autophagic flux. Modulation of autophagy / lysosomal homeostasis may thus define a novel therapeutic strategy for type 2 diabetes, with the GLP-1 signalling pathway as a potential focus.
This article contains Supplementary Data online at http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.2337/db16-1009/-/DC1.
- Received August 18, 2016.
- Accepted February 15, 2017.
- © 2017 by the American Diabetes Association.