In arsenic-endemic regions of the world, arsenic exposure correlates with diabetes mellitus. Multiple animal models of inorganic arsenic (iAs, as As3+) exposure have revealed that iAs-induced glucose intolerance manifests as a result of pancreatic β-cell dysfunction. To define the mechanisms responsible for this β-cell defect, the MIN6-K8 mouse β-cell line was exposed to environmentally relevant doses of iAs. Exposure to 0.1-1 µM iAs for 3 days significantly decreased glucose-induced insulin secretion (GIIS). Serotonin and its precursor, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), were both decreased. Supplementation with 5-HTP, which loads the system with bioavailable 5-HTP and serotonin, rescued GIIS, suggesting that recovery of this pathway was sufficient to restore function. Exposure to iAs was accompanied by an increase in mRNA expression of UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1 family, polypeptide a6a (Ugt1a6a), a phase-II detoxification enzyme that facilitates the disposal of cyclic amines, including serotonin, via glucuronidation. Elevated Ugt1a6a and UGT1A6 expression levels were observed in mouse and human islets, respectively, following 3 days of iAs exposure. Consistent with this finding, the enzymatic rate of serotonin glucuronidation was increased in iAs-exposed cells. Knockdown by siRNA of Ugt1a6a during iAs exposure restored GIIS in MIN6-K8 cells. This effect was prevented by blockade of serotonin biosynthesis, suggesting that the observed iAs-induced increase in Ugt1a6a affects GIIS by targeting serotonin or serotonin-related metabolites. Although it is not yet clear exactly which element(s) of the serotonin pathway is/are most responsible for iAs-induced GIIS dysfunction, this study provides evidence that UGT1A6A, acting on the serotonin pathway, regulates GIIS under both normal and pathological conditions.
Keywords: arsenic; diabetes; glucuronidation; insulin secretion; serotonin.