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Endocrinology. 2010 May;151(5):2019-29. doi: 10.1210/en.2009-1166. Epub 2010 Mar 10.

Exendin-4 prevents c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase activation by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) and inhibits TNFalpha-induced apoptosis in insulin-secreting cells.

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Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, Section on Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, Andrology, and Metabolic Diseases, University of Bari, Piazza Giulio Cesare, Bari, Italy.


Glucagon-like peptide-1 and its analogs may preserve pancreatic beta-cell mass by promoting resistance to cytokine-mediated apoptosis. The mechanisms of TNFalpha-induced apoptosis and of its inhibition by exendin-4 were investigated in insulin-secreting cells. INS-1 and MIN6 insulinoma cells were exposed to 20 ng/ml TNFalpha, with or without pretreatment with 10 nm exendin-4. Treatment with TNFalpha increased c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK) phosphorylation 2-fold, reduced inhibitor-kappaBalpha (IkappaBalpha) protein content by 50%, induced opposite changes in caspase-3 and Bcl-2 protein content, and increased cellular apoptosis. Moreover, exposure to TNFalpha resulted in increased serine phosphorylation of both insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 and IRS-2 and reduced basal and insulin-induced Akt phosphorylation. However, in the presence of a JNK inhibitor, TNFalpha-induced apoptosis was diminished and serine phosphorylation of IRS proteins was prevented. When cells were pretreated with exendin-4, TNFalpha-induced JNK and IRS-1/2 serine phosphorylation was markedly reduced, Akt phosphorylation was increased, caspase-3 and Bcl-2 protein levels were restored to normal, and TNFalpha-induced apoptosis was inhibited by 50%. This was associated with a 2-fold increase in IRS-2 expression levels. A similar ability of exendin-4 to prevent TNFalpha-induced JNK phosphorylation was found in isolated pancreatic human islets. The inhibitory effect of exendin-4 on TNFalpha-induced JNK phosphorylation was abrogated in the presence of the protein kinase A inhibitor H89. In conclusion, JNK activation mediates TNFalpha-induced apoptosis and impairment of the IRS/Akt signaling pathway in insulin-secreting cells. By inhibiting JNK phosphorylation in a PKA-dependent manner, exendin-4 counteracts TNFalpha-mediated apoptosis and reverses the inhibitory events in the IRS/Akt pathway, resulting in promotion of cell survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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