Pathological endoplasmic reticulum stress mediated by the IRE1 pathway contributes to pre-insulitic beta cell apoptosis in a virus-induced rat model of type 1 diabetes

Chaoxing Yang, Philip Diiorio, Agata Jurczyk, Bryan O'Sullivan-Murphy, Fumihiko Urano, Rita Bortell
Diabetologia 2013, 56 (12): 2638-46

AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesised that pathological endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress contributes to beta cell death during development of type 1 diabetes. In this study, we investigated the occurrence of beta cell ER stress and the signalling pathways involved during discrete stages of autoimmune diabetes progression. The virus-inducible BBDR rat model was used to systematically interrogate the three main ER stress signalling pathways (IRE1 [inositol-requiring protein-1], PERK [double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR)-like ER kinase] and ATF6 [activating transcription factor 6]) in pancreatic beta cells during type 1 diabetes development.

METHODS: ER stress and apoptotic markers were assessed by immunoblot analyses of isolated pancreatic islets and immunofluorescence staining of pancreas sections from control and virus-induced rats. Various time points were analysed: (1) early stages preceding the development of insulitis and (2) a late stage during onset and progression of insulitis, which precedes overt hyperglycaemia.

RESULTS: The IRE1 pathway, including its downstream component X-box-binding protein 1, was specifically activated in pancreatic beta cells of virus-induced rats at early stages preceding the development of insulitis. Furthermore, ER stress-specific pro-apoptotic caspase 12 and effector caspase 3 were also activated at this stage. Activation of PERK and its downstream effector pro-apoptotic CHOP (CCAAT/-enhancer-binding-protein homologous protein), only occurred during late stages of diabetes induction concurrent with insulitis, whereas ATF6 activation in pancreatic beta cells was similar in control and virus-induced rats.

CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Activation of the IRE1 pathway and ER stress-specific pro-apoptotic caspase 12, before the development of insulitis, are indicative of ER stress-mediated beta cell damage. The early occurrence of pathological ER stress and death in pancreatic beta cells may contribute to the initiation and/or progression of virus-induced autoimmune diabetes.

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