LDHA is enriched in human islet alpha cells and upregulated in type 2 diabetes

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2021 Sep 3;568:158-166. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2021.06.065. Epub 2021 Jul 1.


The lactate dehydrogenase isoform A (LDHA) is a key metabolic enzyme that preferentially catalyzes the conversion of pyruvate to lactate. Whereas LDHA is highly expressed in many tissues, its expression is turned off in the differentiated adult β-cell within the pancreatic islets. The repression of LDHA under normal physiological condition and its inappropriate upregulation under a diabetogenic environment is well-documented in rodent islets/β-cells but little is known about LDHA expression in human islet cells and whether its abundance is altered under diabetic conditions. Analysis of public single-cell RNA-seq (sc-RNA seq) data as well as cell type-specific immunolabeling of human pancreatic islets showed that LDHA was mainly localized in human α-cells while it is expressed at a very low level in β-cells. Furthermore, LDHA, both at mRNA and protein, as well as lactate production is upregulated in human pancreatic islets exposed to chronic high glucose treatment. Microscopic analysis of stressed human islets and autopsy pancreases from individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D) showed LDHA upregulation mainly in human α-cells. Pharmacological inhibition of LDHA in isolated human islets enhanced insulin secretion under physiological conditions but did not significantly correct the deregulated secretion of insulin or glucagon under diabetic conditions.

Keywords: Beta-cell; Diabetes; Islets; LDH; LDHA; Lactate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Glucagon-Secreting Cells / cytology
  • Glucagon-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin Secretion
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / analysis
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Up-Regulation


  • RNA, Messenger
  • L-Lactate Dehydrogenase
  • LDHA protein, human
  • Glucose