Pancreatic, but not myeloid-cell, expression of interleukin-1alpha is required for maintenance of insulin secretion and whole body glucose homeostasis

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OBJECTIVE: The expression of the interleukin-1 receptor type I (IL-1R) is enriched in pancreatic islet β-cells, signifying that ligands activating this pathway are important for the health and function of the insulin-secreting cell. Using isolated mouse, rat, and human islets, we identified the cytokine IL-1α as a highly inducible gene in response to IL-1R activation. In addition, IL-1α is elevated in mouse and rat models of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Since less is known about the biology of IL-1α relative to IL-1β in pancreatic tissue, our objective was to investigate the contribution of IL-1α to pancreatic β-cell function and overall glucose homeostasis in vivo. METHODS: We generated a novel mouse line with conditional IL-1α alleles and subsequently produced mice with either pancreatic- or myeloid lineage-specific deletion of IL-1α. RESULTS: Using this in vivo approach, we discovered that pancreatic (IL-1α), but not myeloid-cell, expression of IL-1α (IL-1α) was required for the maintenance of whole body glucose homeostasis in both male and female mice. Moreover, pancreatic deletion of IL-1α led to impaired glucose tolerance with no change in insulin sensitivity. This observation was consistent with our finding that glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was reduced in islets isolated from IL-1α mice. Alternatively, IL-1α mice (male and female) did not have any detectable changes in glucose tolerance, respiratory quotient, physical activity, or food intake when compared with littermate controls. CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, we conclude that there is an important physiological role for pancreatic IL-1α to promote glucose homeostasis by supporting glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and islet β-cell mass in vivo.

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Molecular metabolism

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