Background and Aims: Mitochondrial metabolism of glucose is vital for the initiation of insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells. Whether mitochondrial ultra-structure, and the proteins controlling mitochondrial fission and fusion, are essential for glucose recognition is less clear. Here, β-cell-restricted deletion of Mfn1 and Mfn2 in adult mice was used to investigate the role of mitochondrial dynamics in insulin secretion and glucose homeostasis in vivo and in vitro.

Methods: C57BL6 mice bearing Mfn1 and Mfn2 alleles with FloxP sites, were crossed to animals carrying an inducible Cre recombinase expressed under Pdx1 promoter control (PdxCreERT). Following tamoxifen induction, Mfn1 and Mfn2 knockdown was confirmed in KO islets. Live β-cell fluorescence imaging of Ca2+ accumulation and membrane potential were performed on isolated islets and in the living mouse. Mitochondrial ultra-structure was measured using super resolution fluorescence imaging and EM.

Results: Mitochondrial length was strongly and selectively diminished in β-cells from βMfn1/2 KO mice. KO animals displayed higher fasting and fed glycaemia than control animals at 14 weeks and a considerable (>5-fold) decrease in plasma insulin post-IP glucose injection. Additionally, mitochondrial length, glucose-induced hyperpolarization, ATP synthesis, Ca2+ accumulation, O2 consumption and β-cell connectivity were all significantly reduced in βMfn1/2-KO mouse islets. Ca2+ dynamics and mitochondrial membrane potential changes were also suppressed in vivo. Remarkably, defective GSIS in islets isolated from βMfn1/2-KO mice was normalised by the addition of GLP-1 receptor agonists.

Conclusions: Mitochondrial fusion and fission cycles are indispensable in the β-cell for normal glucose sensing in vitro and in vivo. GLP-1 receptor agonism may mitigate the effects of mitochondrial abnormalities in some forms of diabetes.


E. Georgiadou: None. M. Ibberson: None. I. Leclerc: Consultant; Spouse/Partner; Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. A. K. Linnemann: None. Y. Ali: None. T. Rodriguez: None. G. A. Rutter: Advisory Panel; Self; Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. C. Muralidharan: None. P. L. Chabosseau: None. A. Tomas: Other Relationship; Self; Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. T. Stylianides: None. C. Legido-quigley: None. N. Alsabeeh: None. C. Cruciani-guglielmacci: Consultant; Self; The Healthy Aging Company. C. Magnan: None.


UK Wellcome Trust (WT098424AIA, 212625/Z/18/Z); Medical Research Council (MR/R022259/1, MR/J0003042/1, MR/L020149/1, MR/N00275X/1); Experimental Challenge Grant (DIVA, MR/L02036X/1); Diabetes UK (BDA/11/0004210, BDA/15/0005275, BDA16/0005485)

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