Mechanisms of pancreatic beta-cell apoptosis in diabetes and its therapies

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2010;654:447-62. doi: 10.1007/978-90-481-3271-3_19.


Diabetes occurs when beta-cells no longer function properly or have been destroyed. Pancreatic beta-cell death by apoptosis contributes significantly in both autoimmune type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Pancreatic beta-cell death can be induced by multiple stresses in both major types of diabetes. There are also several rare forms of diabetes, including Wolcott-Rallison syndrome, Wolfram syndrome, as well as some forms of maturity onset diabetes of the young that are caused by mutations in genes that may play important roles in beta-cell survival. The use of islet transplantation as a treatment for diabetes is also limited by excessive beta-cell apoptosis. Mechanistic insights into the control of pancreatic beta-cell apoptosis are therefore important for the prevention and treatment of diabetes. Indeed, a substantial quantity of research has been dedicated to this area over the past decade. In this chapter, we review the factors that influence the propensity of beta-cells to undergo apoptosis and the mechanisms of this programmed cell death in the initiation and progression of diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology*
  • Ligands
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Genetic


  • Ligands