Author(s): Wideman RD, Covey SD, Webb GC, Drucker DJ, Kieffer TJ
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: Glucagon, which raises blood glucose levels by stimulating hepatic glucose production, is produced in alpha-cells via cleavage of proglucagon by prohormone convertase (PC)-2. In the enteroendocrine L-cell, proglucagon is differentially processed by the alternate enzyme PC1/3 to yield glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1, GLP-2, and oxyntomodulin, which have blood glucose-lowering effects. We hypothesized that alteration of PC expression in alpha-cells might convert the alpha-cell from a hyperglycemia-promoting cell to one that would improve glucose homeostasis. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We compared the effect of transplanting encapsulated PC2-expressing alpha TC-1 cells with PC1/3-expressing alpha TCDeltaPC2 cells in normal mice and low-dose streptozotocin (STZ)-treated mice. RESULTS: Transplantation of PC2-expressing alpha-cells increased plasma glucagon levels and caused mild fasting hyperglycemia, impaired glucose tolerance, and alpha-cell hypoplasia. In contrast, PC1/3-expressing alpha-cells increased plasma GLP-1/GLP-2 levels, improved glucose tolerance, and promoted beta-cell proliferation. In GLP-1R(-/-) mice, the ability of PC1/3-expressing alpha-cells to improve glucose tolerance was attenuated. Transplantation of PC1/3-expressing alpha-cells prevented STZ-induced hyperglycemia by preserving beta-cell area and islet morphology, possibly via stimulating beta-cell replication. However, PC2-expressing alpha-cells neither prevented STZ-induced hyperglycemia nor increased beta-cell proliferation. Transplantation of alpha TCDeltaPC2, but not alpha TC-1 cells, also increased intestinal epithelial proliferation. CONCLUSIONS: Expression of PC1/3 rather than PC2 in alpha-cells induces GLP-1 and GLP-2 production and converts the alpha-cell from a hyperglycemia-promoting cell to one that lowers blood glucose levels and promotes islet survival. This suggests that alteration of proglucagon processing in the alpha-cell may be therapeutically useful in the context of diabetes.
This article was published in Diabetes
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism