We recently described autoantibodies that stimulate the release of insulin from pancreatic β-cells both in vitro and in vivo. The aim of this study was to establish whether islet cell–stimulating antibodies (ICSTAs) also increase islet cell preproinsulin mRNA content. Wistar rat islets, isolated by collagenase digestion, were exposed to 2.7 and 11.1 mM glucose. Insulin release increased 10-fold in response to the higher glucose concentration, and dot-blot analysis of islet mRNA with a rat preproinsulin cDNA probe showed a concomitant increase in mRNA levels. The globulin fractions of four test serums, three from patients with type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes and one from a patient with the insulin autoimmune syndrome, showed clear (5- to 8-fold) stimulation of insulin release. The nonglobulin fractions of these serums and both fractions of three control serums failed to stimulate secretion of insulin. The insulin mRNA content of islets incubated with the ICSTA globulin fractions was greatly increased compared with levels observed in islets treated with control serum globulin fractions. We conclude that ICSTAs not only can stimulate the release of insulin but also increase the preproinsulin mRNA content of islet cells.

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