Hexosamines have been shown to mediate effects of hyperglycemia and so-called "glucose toxicity" in insulin-sensitive tissues. To determine the effects of hexosamines on insulin synthesis and secretion, transgenic mice were created to overexpress the rate-limiting enzyme for hexosamine synthesis, glutamine:fructose-6-phosphate amidotransferase (GFA), specifically in beta-cells. GFA activity in islets of heterozygous transgenic mice was elevated 76% compared with littermate controls. The increased GFA activity led to 1.4- and 2.1-fold increased pancreatic insulin content in 2- and 10-month-old transgenic mice, respectively (P < 0.005). Fasting insulin levels were 1.6-fold higher than in littermate controls (P < 0.05). Hyperinsulinemia was evident despite a 28% reduction in insulin mRNA levels. The fasting glucose levels in the transgenic mice equaled that of controls aged 2-4 months but exceeded that of the controls aged 6-10 months (means +/- SE 6.9 +/- 0.2 vs. 5.9 +/- 0.2 mmol/l, P < 0.001). By 8 months, the males were overweight and mildly diabetic (fasting glucose 8.8 +/- 0.5 mmol/l) despite persistent hyperinsulinemia. Insulin resistance was confirmed in both males and females using the euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp technique; glucose disposal rates decreased by 48% in transgenic mice (P < 0.01). Triglyceride levels did not differ, and free fatty acid levels were lower in the transgenic animals. ATP levels were unchanged in the transgenic islets. We conclude that hexosamine biosynthesis is involved in the regulation of insulin content in beta-cells by glucose. Increased hexosamine flux in the beta-cell results in hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, and (in males) mild type 2 diabetes.

This content is only available via PDF.