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Diabetologia. 2014 Jan;57(1):122-8. doi: 10.1007/s00125-013-3089-4. Epub 2013 Oct 23.

Increased expression of miR-187 in human islets from individuals with type 2 diabetes is associated with reduced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion.

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Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, University of Exeter Medical School, Barrack Road, Exeter, EX2 5DW, UK.



Type 2 diabetes is characterised by progressive beta cell dysfunction, with changes in gene expression playing a crucial role in its development. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression and therefore alterations in miRNA levels may be involved in the deterioration of beta cell function.


Global TaqMan arrays and individual TaqMan assays were used to measure islet miRNA expression in discovery (n = 20) and replication (n = 20) cohorts from individuals with and without type 2 diabetes. The role of specific dysregulated miRNAs in regulating insulin secretion, content and apoptosis was subsequently investigated in primary rat islets and INS-1 cells. Identification of miRNA targets was assessed using luciferase assays and by measuring mRNA levels.


In the discovery and replication cohorts miR-187 expression was found to be significantly increased in islets from individuals with type 2 diabetes compared with matched controls. An inverse correlation between miR-187 levels and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) was observed in islets from normoglycaemic donors. This correlation paralleled findings in primary rat islets and INS-1 cells where overexpression of miR-187 markedly decreased GSIS without affecting insulin content or apoptotic index. Finally, the gene encoding homeodomain-interacting protein kinase-3 (HIPK3), a known regulator of insulin secretion, was identified as a direct target of miR-187 and displayed reduced expression in islets from individuals with type 2 diabetes.


Our findings suggest a role for miR-187 in the blunting of insulin secretion, potentially involving regulation of HIPK3, which occurs during the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.

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