Previous work has shown that interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) alters protein expression in beta-cells. This alteration is associated with cell death in isolated rat islets but not in isolated rat beta-cells. We examined whether IL-1beta pretreatment of isolated beta-cells influences their sensitivity to toxic agents. After a 24-h culture with IL-1beta (30 U/ml), beta-cells exhibited a lower expression of the beta-cell-specific protein transcription factor pancreatic and duodenal homeobox gene (PDX)-1, glucose transporter GLUT2, and proinsulin convertase PC2, with a marked reduction (60-70%) in glucose-induced insulin production and selective sensitivity to the toxins alloxan (ALX) and streptozotocin (STZ). On the other hand, the cells presented an increased expression of Mn-superoxide dismutase, heat shock protein 70, inducible heme oxygenase, and inducible nitrite oxide synthase. This IL-1beta-induced alteration in beta-cell phenotype resulted in a reduced cellular sensitivity to the beta-cell-specific toxins ALX and STZ; the production of nontoxic conditions of nitric oxide (NO) also rendered the cells less susceptible to radical-induced damage. Exposure to IL-1beta can thus protect beta-cells against conditions that cause necrosis; however, it did not protect against apoptosis induced by the additional presence of interferon-gamma or tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Release of IL-1beta in the endocrine pancreas is thus not necessarily the cause of massive NO-dependent beta-cell destruction. On the contrary, IL-1beta may protect these cells against necrosis, though with a loss of their characteristic phenotype and homeostatic functions.

This content is only available via PDF.