Protective effect of nobiletin on isolated human islets survival and function against hypoxia and oxidative stress-induced apoptosis

Sci Rep. 2019 Aug 12;9(1):11701. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48262-6.


Islets transplantation, as a treatment of type 1 diabetes, faces challenges, including the loss of islets in the process of isolation and pre-transplantation due to cellular stresses-induced apoptosis. Accordingly, the optimization of culture plays a decisive role in the transplantation success. In this study, we evaluated the effect of nobiletin on the cultured human islets. Isolated human islets were treated by different concentrations of nobiletin and cultured for 24 and 72 hours. Then, the islets viability, apoptosis, insulin and C-peptide secretion, and apoptosis markers were evaluated. Also, the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α), and its target genes in the islets were examined. Our findings showed that the islets were encountered with hypoxia and oxidative stress after isolation and during culture. These insults induced apoptosis and reduced viability during culture period. Moreover, the secretion of insulin and C-peptide decreased. Nobiletin treatments significantly improved the islets survival through reduction of HIF-1α and ROS production and suppression of apoptosis, along with increased islets function. Islet protective effect of nobiletin might be related to its anti-oxidant, anti-apoptotic and insulinotropic properties. Hence, in order to achieve viable and functional islets for clinical transplantation, the application of nobiletin during pre-transplantation period is useful.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Flavones / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / genetics
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Insulin / biosynthesis
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / cytology
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavones
  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Insulin
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • nobiletin