1,25(OH)2D3 Activates Autophagy to Protect against Oxidative Damage of INS-1 Pancreatic Beta Cells

Biol Pharm Bull. 2019;42(4):561-567. doi: 10.1248/bpb.b18-00395.


Diabetes mellitus is a serious disease endangering human health worldwide. Vitamin D (Vit D) is a well-characterized regulator of calcium-phosphorus metabolism that also exerts other biological effects extending far beyond mineral homeostasis. Some epidemiological studies have suggested that Vit D has a role in defense against diabetes, although the mechanism remains unclear. Autophagy, an intracellular catabolic process, is necessary to maintain the normal structure and function of host cells. In our previous study, we found that Vit D could induce autophagy of pancreatic beta cells and prevent insulitis, although the underlying mechanisms remain to be fully elucidated. In this study, the protective effect of 1,25(OH)2D3, the physiologically active metabolite of Vit D, against streptozotocin-induced cytotoxicity in rat insulinoma cell line (INS-1) cells was explored. Cell viability and insulin secretion of INS-1 cells in response to different treatments were measured with a cell counting kit and enzyme-linked immune absorbent assay (ELISA), respectively. In addition, malondialdehyde (MDA) content and total antioxidant capacity (T-AOC) were measured by ELISA. RT-PCR and Western blot analyses were used to detect autophagy levels, reactive oxygen species (ROS) was assessed by fluorescence microscope, ultrastructure analysis was performed using transmission electron microscopy. The results demonstrated that 1,25(OH)2D3 could increase cell viability and insulin secretion of INS-1 cells, and protected cells from oxidative damage induced by streptozotocin (STZ) through autophagy activation. These findings shed light on mechanisms underlying the ameliorative effects of Vit D on diabetes mellitus.

Keywords: 1,25(OH)2D3; autophagy; oxidative damage; rat insulinoma cell line (INS-1) cell.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Calcitriol / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Rats
  • Streptozocin
  • Vitamins / pharmacology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Insulin
  • Vitamins
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Streptozocin
  • Calcitriol
  • Glucose