Aims/hypothesis: GPR44 (DP2, PTGDR2, CRTh2) is the receptor for the pro-inflammatory mediator prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) and it is enriched in human islets. In rodent islets, PGD2 is produced in response to glucose, suggesting that the PGD2-GPR44/DP2 axis may play a role in human islet function during hyperglycemia. Consequently, the aim of this work was to elucidate the insulinotropic role of GPR44 antagonism in vitro in human beta-cells and in type 2 diabetes (T2DM) patients.
Methods: We determined the drive on PGD2 secretion by glucose and IL-1beta, as well as, the impact on insulin secretion by pharmacological GPR44/DP2 antagonism (AZD1981) in human islets and beta-cells in vitro. To test if metabolic control would be improved by antagonizing a hyperglycemia-driven increased PGD2 tone, we performed a proof-of-mechanism study in 20 T2DM patients (average 54 years, HbA1c 9.4%, BMI 31.6 kg/m2). The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study consisted of two three-day treatment periods (AZD1981 or placebo) separated by a three-day wash-out period. Mixed meal tolerance test (MMTT) and intravenous graded glucose infusion (GGI) was performed at start and end of each treatment period. Assessment of AZD1981 pharmacokinetics, glucose, insulin, C-peptide, glucagon, GLP-1, and PGD2 pathway biomarkers were performed.
Results: We found (1) that PGD2 is produced in human islet in response to high glucose or IL-1beta, but likely by stellate cells rather than endocrine cells; (2) that PGD2 suppresses both glucose and GLP-1 induced insulin secretion in vitro; and (3) that the GPR44/DP2 antagonist (AZD1981) in human beta-cells normalizes insulin secretion. However, AZD1981 had no impact on neither glucose nor incretin dependent insulin secretion in humans (GGI AUC C-peptide 1-2h and MMTT AUC Glucose 0-4h LS mean ratios vs placebo of 0.94 (80% CI of 0.90-0.98, p = 0.12) and 0.99 (90% CI of 0.94-1.05, p = 0.45), despite reaching the expected antagonist exposure.
Conclusion/interpretation: Pharmacological inhibition of the PGD2-GPR44/DP2 axis has no major impact on the modulation of acute insulin secretion in T2DM patients.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02367066.