Type 1 Diabetes is characterized by an absolute insulin deficiency due to the autoimmune destruction of insulin producing β-cells in the pancreatic islets. Akt1/Protein Kinase B is the direct downstream target of PI3 Kinase activation, and has shown potent anti-apoptotic and proliferation-inducing activities. This study was designed to explore whether gene transfer of constitutively active Akt1 (CA-Akt1) would promote β-cell survival and proliferation, thus be protective against experimental diabetes. In the study, a fiber-modified infectivity-enhanced adenoviral vector, Ad5RGDpK7, was used to deliver rat insulin promoter (RIP)-driven CA-Akt1 into β-cells. Our data showed this vector efficiently delivered CA-Akt1 into freshly isolated pancreatic islets, and promoted islet cell survival and β-cell proliferation in vitro. The therapeutic effect of the vector in vivo was assessed using streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes mice. Two means of vector administration were explored: intravenous and intra-bile ductal injections. While direct vector administration into pancreas via bile-ductal injection resulted in local adverse effect, intravenous injection of the vectors offered therapeutic benefits. Further analysis suggests systemic vector administration caused endogenous Akt expression and activation in islets, which may be responsible, at least in part, for the protective effect of the infectivity-enhanced CA-Akt1 gene delivery vector. Taken together, our data suggest CA-Akt1 is effective in promoting β-cell survival and proliferation in vitro, but direct in vivo use is compromised by the efficacy of transgene delivery into β-cells. Nonetheless, the vector evoked the expression and activation of endogenous Akt in the islets, thus offering beneficial bystander effect against STZ-induced diabetes.
Keywords: Akt1; adenovirus; diabetes; islets; β-cell proliferation.