Brain and Body: A Review of Central Nervous System Contributions to Movement Impairments in Diabetes

Atorvastatin Targets the Islet Mevalonate Pathway to Dysregulate mTOR Signaling and Reduce β-Cell Functional Mass


Statins are cholesterol-lowering agents that increase the incidence of diabetes and impair glucose tolerance via their detrimental effects on nonhepatic tissues, such as pancreatic islets, but the underlying mechanism has not been determined. In atorvastatin (ator)-treated high-fat diet–fed mice, we found reduced pancreatic β-cell size and β-cell mass, fewer mature insulin granules, and reduced insulin secretion and glucose tolerance. Transcriptome profiling of primary pancreatic islets showed that ator inhibited the expression of pancreatic transcription factor, mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, and small G protein (sGP) genes. Supplementation of the mevalonate pathway intermediate geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP), which is produced by 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase, significantly restored the attenuated mTOR activity, v-maf musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma oncogene homolog A (MafA) expression, and β-cell function after ator, lovastatin, rosuvastatin, and fluvastatin treatment; this effect was potentially mediated by sGP prenylation. Rab5a, the sGP in pancreatic islets most affected by ator treatment, was found to positively regulate mTOR signaling and β-cell function. Rab5a knockdown mimicked the effect of ator treatment on β-cells. Thus, ator impairs β-cell function by regulating sGPs, for example, Rab5a, which subsequently attenuates islet mTOR signaling and reduces functional β-cell mass. GGPP supplementation could constitute a new approach for preventing statin-induced hyperglycemia.

  • Received February 20, 2019.
  • Accepted October 14, 2019.

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