High blood glucose plays an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetes. α-lipoic acid (LA) has been used to prevent and treat diabetes, and is thought to act by increasing insulin sensitivity in many tissues. However, whether LA also has a cytoprotective effect on pancreatic islet beta cells remains unclear. In this study, we assessed whether LA could inhibit apoptosis in beta cells exposed to high glucose concentrations. HIT-T15 pancreatic beta cells were treated with 30 mmol/L glucose in the presence or absence of 0.5 mmol/L LA for 8 days. LA significantly reduced the numbers of apoptotic HIT-T15 cells and inhibited the cell overgrowth normally induced by high glucose treatment. Additionally, LA inhibited insulin expression and secretion in HIT-T15 cells induced by high glucose. Further study demonstrated that LA upregulated Pdx1 and Bcl2 gene expression, reduced Bax gene expression, and promoted phosphorylation of Akt in HIT-T15 cells treated with high glucose. Intriguingly, knockdown of Pdx1 expression partially offset the anti-apoptotic effect of LA. However, inhibition of Akt by PI3K/AKT antagonist LY294002 only slightly reversed the anti-apoptosis effect of LA and mildly decreased the gene expression level of Pdx1 (P > 0.05). Moreover, LA only slightly attenuated reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and augmented mitochondrial membrane potential. Therefore, our data suggest that α-lipoic acid can effectively attenuate high glucose-induced HIT-T15 cell apoptosis probably by increasing Pdx1 expression. These findings provide a new interpretation on the role of LA in the treatment of diabetes.
© 2012 The Authors Development, Growth & Differentiation © 2012 Japanese Society of Developmental Biologists.