Cytokine production by islets in health and diabetes: cellular origin, regulation and function

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2010 May;21(5):261-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2009.12.010. Epub 2010 Jan 22.


Islets produce a variety of cytokines and chemokines in response to physiologic and pathologic stimulation by nutrients. The cellular source of these inflammatory mediators includes alpha-, beta-, endothelial-, ductal- and recruited immune cells. Islet-derived cytokines promote alpha- and beta-cell adaptation and repair in the short term. Eventually, chronic metabolic stress can induce a deleterious autoinflammatory process in islets leading to insulin secretion failure and type 2 diabetes. Understanding the specific role of islet derived cytokines and chemokines has opened the door to targeted clinical interventions aimed at remodeling islet inflammation from destruction to adaptation. In this article, we review the islet cellular origin of various cytokines and chemokines and describe their regulation and respective roles in physiology and diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glucose / physiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / physiology
  • Interleukin-1beta / physiology
  • Interleukin-6 / physiology
  • Islets of Langerhans / physiology*
  • NF-kappa B / physiology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • NF-kappa B
  • Glucose