Adipocyte-derived extracellular vesicles regulate survival and function of pancreatic β cells

JCI Insight. 2021 Mar 8;6(5):e141962. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.141962.


Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are implicated in the crosstalk between adipocytes and other metabolic organs, and an altered biological cargo has been observed in EVs from human obese adipose tissue (AT). Yet, the role of adipocyte-derived EVs in pancreatic β cells remains to be determined. Here, we explored the effects of EVs released from adipocytes isolated from both rodents and humans and human AT explants on survival and function of pancreatic β cells and human pancreatic islets. EVs from healthy 3T3-L1 adipocytes increased survival and proliferation and promoted insulin secretion in INS-1E β cells and human pancreatic islets, both those untreated or exposed to cytokines or glucolipotoxicity, whereas EVs from inflamed adipocytes caused β cell death and dysfunction. Human lean adipocyte-derived EVs produced similar beneficial effects, whereas EVs from obese AT explants were harmful for human EndoC-βH3 β cells. We observed differential expression of miRNAs in EVs from healthy and inflamed adipocytes, as well as alteration in signaling pathways and expression of β cell genes, adipokines, and cytokines in recipient β cells. These in vitro results suggest that, depending on the physiopathological state of AT, adipocyte-derived EVs may influence β cell fate and function.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; Beta cells; Diabetes; Metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes* / cytology
  • Adipocytes* / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue* / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue* / pathology
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Islets of Langerhans* / cytology
  • Islets of Langerhans* / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Obesity / metabolism*