Redox homeostasis and cell cycle activation mediate beta-cell mass expansion in aged, diabetes-prone mice under metabolic stress conditions: Role of thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP)

Redox Biol. 2020 Oct;37:101748. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2020.101748. Epub 2020 Oct 7.


Overnutrition contributes to insulin resistance, obesity and metabolic stress, initiating a loss of functional beta-cells and diabetes development. Whether these damaging effects are amplified in advanced age is barely investigated. Therefore, New Zealand Obese (NZO) mice, a well-established model for the investigation of human obesity-associated type 2 diabetes, were fed a metabolically challenging diet with a high-fat, carbohydrate restricted period followed by a carbohydrate intervention in young as well as advanced age. Interestingly, while young NZO mice developed massive hyperglycemia in response to carbohydrate feeding, leading to beta-cell dysfunction and cell death, aged counterparts compensated the increased insulin demand by persistent beta-cell function and beta-cell mass expansion. Beta-cell loss in young NZO islets was linked to increased expression of thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP), presumably initiating an apoptosis-signaling cascade via caspase-3 activation. In contrast, islets of aged NZOs exhibited a sustained redox balance without changes in TXNIP expression, associated with higher proliferative potential by cell cycle activation. These findings support the relevance of a maintained proliferative potential and redox homeostasis for preserving islet functionality under metabolic stress, with the peculiarity that this adaptive response emerged with advanced age in diabetes-prone NZO mice.

Keywords: Aging; Beta-cells; Cell cycle; Metabolic stress; Redox homeostasis; Thioredoxin-interacting protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins* / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins* / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Obese
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Thioredoxins* / genetics
  • Thioredoxins* / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Txnip protein, mouse
  • Thioredoxins