Dimethyl fumarate protects pancreatic islet cells and non-endocrine tissue in L-arginine-induced chronic pancreatitis

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 8;9(9):e107111. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107111. eCollection 2014.


Background: Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is a progressive disorder resulting in the destruction and fibrosis of the pancreatic parenchyma which ultimately leads to impairment of the endocrine and exocrine functions. Dimethyl Fumarate (DMF) was recently approved by FDA for treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis. DMF's unique anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it an interesting drug to test on other inflammatory conditions. This study was undertaken to determine the effects of DMF on islet cells and non-endocrine tissue in a rodent model of L-Arginine-induced CP.

Methods: Male Wistar rats fed daily DMF (25 mg/kg) or vehicle by oral gavage were given 5 IP injections of L-Arginine (250 mg/100 g × 2, 1 hr apart). Rats were assessed with weights and intra-peritoneal glucose tolerance tests (IPGTT, 2 g/kg). Islets were isolated and assessed for islet mass and viability with flow cytometry. Non-endocrine tissue was assessed for histology, myeloperoxidase (MPO), and lipid peroxidation level (MDA). In vitro assessments included determination of heme oxygenase (HO-1) protein expression by Western blot.

Results: Weight gain was significantly reduced in untreated CP group at 6 weeks. IPGTT revealed significant impairment in untreated CP group and its restoration with DMF therapy (P <0.05). Untreated CP rats had pancreatic atrophy, severe acinar architectural damage, edema, and fatty infiltration as well as elevated MDA and MPO levels, which were significantly improved by DMF treatment. After islet isolation, the volume of non-endocrine tissue was significantly smaller in untreated CP group. Although islet counts were similar in the two groups, islet viability was significantly reduced in untreated CP group and improved with DMF treatment. In vitro incubation of human pancreatic tissue with DMF significantly increased HO-1 expression.

Conclusion: Administration of DMF attenuated L-Arginine-induced CP and islet function in rats. DMF treatment could be a possible strategy to improve clinical outcome in patients with CP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arginine / toxicity*
  • Dimethyl Fumarate / pharmacology*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Male
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / drug effects*
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / metabolism
  • Pancreas, Exocrine / pathology
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / chemically induced
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / pathology
  • Pancreatitis, Chronic / prevention & control*
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Protective Agents
  • Arginine
  • Dimethyl Fumarate