Pro-inflammatory cytokines attenuate glucose-stimulated insulin secretion from INS-1E insulinoma cells by restricting mitochondrial pyruvate oxidation capacity - Novel mechanistic insight from real-time analysis of oxidative phosphorylation

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Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, United Kingdom.
  • Institute for Metabolism and Systems Research (IMSR), University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.


Pro-inflammatory cytokines cause pancreatic beta cell failure during the development of type 2 diabetes. This beta cell failure associates with mitochondrial dysfunction, but the precise effects of cytokines on mitochondrial respiration remain unclear. To test the hypothesis that pro-inflammatory cytokines impair glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) by inhibiting oxidative ATP synthesis, we probed insulin release and real-time mitochondrial respiration in rat INS-1E insulinoma cells that were exposed to a combination of 2 ng/mL interleukin-1-beta and 50 ng/mL interferon-gamma. We show that 24-h exposure to these cytokines dampens both glucose- and pyruvate-stimulated insulin secretion (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.05, respectively), but does not affect KCl-induced insulin release. Mirroring secretory defects, glucose- and pyruvate-stimulated mitochondrial respiration are lowered after cytokine exposure (P < 0.01). Further analysis confirms that cytokine-induced mitochondrial respiratory defects occur irrespective of whether fuel oxidation is coupled to, or uncoupled from, ATP synthesis. These observations demonstrate that pro-inflammatory cytokines attenuate GSIS by restricting mitochondrial pyruvate oxidation capacity. Interleukin-1-beta and interferon-gamma also increase mitochondrial superoxide levels (P < 0.05), which may reinforce the inhibition of pyruvate oxidation, and cause a modest (20%) but significant (P < 0.01) loss of INS-1E cells. Cytokine-induced INS-1E cell failure is insensitive to palmitoleate and linoleate, which is at odds with the cytoprotection offered by unsaturated fatty acids against harm caused by nutrient excess. Our data disclose a mitochondrial mechanism for cytokine-impaired GSIS in INS-1E cells, and suggest that inflammatory and nutrient-related beta cell failure emerge, at least partly, through distinct paths.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0199505
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2018