Aims/hypothesis: Sirtuin 1 (Sirt1) has been reported to be a critical positive regulator of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in pancreatic beta-cells. The effects on islet cells and blood glucose levels when Sirt1 is deleted specifically in the pancreas are still unclear.
Methods: This study examined islet glucose responsiveness, blood glucose levels, pancreatic islet histology and gene expression in Pdx1Cre; Sirt1ex4F/F mice that have loss of function and loss of expression of Sirt1 specifically in the pancreas.
Results: We found that in the Pdx1Cre; Sirt1ex4F/F mice, the relative insulin positive area and the islet size distribution were unchanged. However, beta-cells were functionally impaired, presenting with lower glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. This defect was not due to a reduced expression of insulin but was associated with a decreased expression of the glucose transporter Slc2a2/Glut2 and of the Glucagon like peptide-1 receptor (Glp1r) as well as a marked down regulation of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperones that participate in the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) pathway. Counter intuitively, the Sirt1-deficient mice did not develop hyperglycemia. Pancreatic polypeptide (PP) cells were the only other islet cells affected, with reduced numbers in the Sirt1-deficient pancreas.
Conclusions/interpretation: This study provides new mechanistic insights showing that beta-cell function in Sirt1-deficient pancreas is affected due to altered glucose sensing and deregulation of the UPR pathway. Interestingly, we uncovered a context in which impaired beta-cell function is not accompanied by increased glycemia. This points to a unique compensatory mechanism. Given the reduction in PP, investigation of its role in the control of blood glucose is warranted.