Phytonutrient genistein is a survival factor for pancreatic β-cells via GPR30-mediated mechanism

J Nutr Biochem. 2018 Aug:58:59-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2018.04.018. Epub 2018 May 12.


We previously discovered that phytonutrient genistein rapidly activates cAMP signaling in β-cells and improves islet mass in diabetic mice. However, the mechanism underlying these actions of genistein is still unclear. Here, we show that pharmacological or molecular inhibition of Gαs blocked genistein-stimulated adenylate cyclase activity in plasma membrane and intracellular cAMP production in INS1 cells and islets. Further, genistein stimulation of cAMP generation was abolished in islets exposed to a specific GPR30 inhibitor G15 or islets from GPR30 deficient (GPR30-/-) mice. In vivo, dietary provision of genistein (0.5 g/kg diet) significantly mitigated streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia in male WT mice, which was associated with improved blood insulin levels and pancreatic islet mass and survival, whereas these effects were absent in Gpr30-/- mice. Genistein treatment promoted survival of INS1 cells and human islets chronically exposed to palmitate and high glucose. At molecular level, genistein activated CREB phosphorylation and subsequently induced Bcl-2 expression, and knockdown of CREB diminished the protective effect of genistein on β-cells induced by lipoglucotoxicity. Finally, deletion of GPR30 in β-cells or islets ablated genistein-induced CREB phosphorylation and its cytoprotective effect. These findings demonstrate that genistein is a survival factor for β-cells via GPR30-initiated, Gαs-mediated activation of CREB.

Keywords: Apoptosis; CREB; GPR30; Genistein; Islets; Mice; cAMP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / genetics
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / prevention & control
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs / metabolism
  • Genistein / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*


  • CREB1 protein, human
  • Cyclic AMP Response Element-Binding Protein
  • GPER1 protein, human
  • GPER1 protein, mouse
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Genistein
  • Cyclic AMP
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, Gs