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Metabolism. 2004 Apr;53(4):488-94.

Pioglitazone improves insulin secretory capacity and prevents the loss of beta-cell mass in obese diabetic db/db mice: Possible protection of beta cells from oxidative stress.

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Third Department of Internal Medicine, Kyorin University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


In order to assess the beneficial effect of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-gamma) agonist pioglitazone on reduction of mass and alteration of function of pancreatic beta cells under diabetic conditions, diabetic C57BL/KsJ db/db mice were treated with pioglitazone for 6 weeks, and insulin secretory capacity and insulin content of isolated pancreatic islets were evaluated. In addition, the expression of oxidative stress markers, 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE)-modified proteins and heme oxygenase-1, in endocrine pancreas was examined to measure reduction of oxidative stress in pancreatic beta cells. The capacity for glucose-induced insulin secretion from isolated islets and their insulin content were improved by pioglitazone treatment (P <.01). When beta cells were stained with anti-insulin antibodies, those of db/db mice treated with pioglitazone exhibited strong staining, as also observed in their lean littermates. The density of immunostaining for oxidative stress markers was significantly reduced in pancreatic islets of pioglitazone-treated db/db mice (P <.05). This study clearly demonstrates the benefit of long-term treatment with pioglitazone in decreasing hyperglycemia and improving glucose-induced insulin secretory capacity in diabetic db/db mice. The results of immunocytochemical examination suggest that this treatment reduces oxidative stress and thereby preserves beta-cell mass. Treatment with pioglitazone thus protects against beta-cell damage and would be useful for restoration of insulin secretory capacity in obese diabetes individuals.

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