The KINGS mouse as a model of beta cell endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and sex differences in diabetes.


Background: The KINGS mouse is a novel model of beta cell endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress which shows stark sex differences in diabetes, with males developing overt and progressive hyperglycaemia whilst females are protected. Beta cell ER stress has been implicated in many types of diabetes and underpins numerous factors known to drive beta cell failure. Sex differences also exist in diabetes in humans with premenopausal women having a lower diabetes incidence compared to men. Further characterisation of the KINGS mice may provide valuable insight into these phenomena. Aims: The objectives of this thesis were to 1) further characterise beta cell ER stress and associated cellular response in the KINGS mice, 2) investigate the influence of sex hormones and beta cell ER stress manipulation on glycaemic control in the KINGS mice and 3) investigate whether diabetes development can be prevented in the male KINGS mice. Methods: Western blotting and immunofluorescent staining were used to investigate the expression of ER stress and unfolded protein response (UPR) markers in KINGS islets, as well as beta cell turnover and mass. To determine the influence of oestradiol on the KINGS phenotype, endogenous oestradiol was removed from female mice via ovariectomy, and exogenous oestradiol was delivered to male KINGS mice through implantation of oestradiol- containing capsules. A western diet was used to exacerbate beta cell ER stress in female KINGS mice, whilst liraglutide administration, TUDCA administration and removal of endogenous testosterone (via orchidectomy) was used in an attempt to reduce ER stress and prevent diabetes in the male KINGS mice. For all in vivo studies, glycaemic control was assessed through blood glucose concentration monitoring, glucose tolerance testing and insulin tolerance testing. Results: Male KINGS mice developed diabetes by 5-6 weeks of age whereas female KINGS mice were protected, in line with previous studies. Protein markers of ER stress and the UPR were observed in KINGS islets from 4 weeks of age and a sex difference was observed in expression profiles with males largely showing an increased expression of markers. Despite this, we did not observe a loss of beta cell mass in either male or female KINGS mice. However, subtle changes in beta cell proliferation and apoptosis in the male KINGS mice are suggestive of mild changes to beta cell turnover which may contribute to diabetes development. A western diet exacerbated beta cell ER stress in female KINGS mice, however this only led to a mild impairment in glycaemic control which was not as severe as that seen in male KINGS mice. This may suggest that even under conditions of further ER stress, female mice are still able to respond adaptively. Removal of endogenous oestradiol also exacerbated beta cell ER stress, however again this was only associated with a subtle impairment in glycaemic control. On the contrary, exogenous oestradiol delivery in the male KINGS mice prevented the development of overt diabetes. Treatment with liraglutide was used in an attempt to alleviate ER stress in the male KINGS mice. Although liraglutide prevented the development of diabetes and reduced blood glucose concentrations once diabetes was established, this protection only lasted during the treatment window and cessation of treatment was associated with increases in blood glucose concentrations. In addition, liraglutide had no effect on beta cell ER stress levels. Treatment with TUDCA, a chemical chaperone previously found to reduce beta cell ER stress, had no impact on blood glucose concentrations in the KINGS mice. However, removal of endogenous testosterone through orchidectomy prevented the development of overt diabetes. Conclusion: In this study we have confirmed that the KINGS mutation drives beta cell ER stress and that sex differences exist in beta cell response to this. Interestingly, an adaptive response to beta cell ER stress was still maintained in female KINGS mice when ER stress was exacerbated through a western diet. We also found that whilst oestradiol likely contributes in-part to sex differences in diabetes, it cannot be the sole mediator and other factors must be involved. Indeed, we found that endogenous testosterone removal prevented the development of diabetes in male mice. Liraglutide treatment also prevented diabetes development in male mice, however this was likely to be mediated through mechanisms unrelated to beta cell ER stress. Further study is required to investigate how testosterone removal and liraglutide protect male mice.</div

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