Palmitic acid esters of hydroxy stearic acids (PAHSAs) are endogenous antidiabetic and antiinflammatory lipids. Here, we show that PAHSAs protect against type 1 diabetes (T1D) and promote β cell survival and function. Daily oral PAHSA administration to nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice delayed the onset of T1D and markedly reduced the incidence of T1D, whether PAHSAs were started before or after insulitis was established. PAHSAs reduced T and B cell infiltration and CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activation, while increasing Treg activation in pancreata of NOD mice. PAHSAs promoted β cell proliferation in both NOD mice and MIN6 cells and increased the number of β cells in NOD mice. PAHSAs attenuated cytokine-induced apoptotic and necrotic β cell death and increased β cell viability. The mechanism appears to involve a reduction of ER stress and MAPK signaling, since PAHSAs lowered ER stress in NOD mice, suppressed thapsigargin-induced PARP cleavage in human islets, and attenuated ERK1/2 and JNK1/2 activation in MIN6 cells. This appeared to be mediated in part by glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP-1R) and not the G protein-coupled receptor GPR40. PAHSAs also prevented impairment of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and improved glucose tolerance in NOD mice. Thus, PAHSAs delayed the onset of T1D and reduced its incidence by attenuating immune responses and exerting direct protective effects on β cell survival and function.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Autoimmunity; Diabetes; Immunology; Islet cells.