Imeglimin mitigates the accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria to restore insulin secretion and suppress apoptosis of pancreatic β-cells from db/db mice

Sci Rep. 2024 Mar 14;14(1):6178. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-56769-w.


Mitochondrial dysfunction in pancreatic β-cells leads to impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) and type 2 diabetes (T2D), highlighting the importance of autophagic elimination of dysfunctional mitochondria (mitophagy) in mitochondrial quality control (mQC). Imeglimin, a new oral anti-diabetic drug that improves hyperglycemia and GSIS, may enhance mitochondrial activity. However, chronic imeglimin treatment's effects on mQC in diabetic β-cells are unknown. Here, we compared imeglimin, structurally similar anti-diabetic drug metformin, and insulin for their effects on clearance of dysfunctional mitochondria through mitophagy in pancreatic β-cells from diabetic model db/db mice and mitophagy reporter (CMMR) mice. Pancreatic islets from db/db mice showed aberrant accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria and excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) along with markedly elevated mitophagy, suggesting that the generation of dysfunctional mitochondria overwhelmed the mitophagic capacity in db/db β-cells. Treatment with imeglimin or insulin, but not metformin, reduced ROS production and the numbers of dysfunctional mitochondria, and normalized mitophagic activity in db/db β-cells. Concomitantly, imeglimin and insulin, but not metformin, restored the secreted insulin level and reduced β-cell apoptosis in db/db mice. In conclusion, imeglimin mitigated accumulation of dysfunctional mitochondria through mitophagy in diabetic mice, and may contribute to preserving β-cell function and effective glycemic control in T2D.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental* / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental* / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Triazines*


  • imeglimin
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Insulin
  • Glucose
  • Triazines