A sustained increase in intracellular Ca concentration (referred to hereafter as excitotoxicity), brought on by chronic metabolic stress, may contribute to pancreatic β-cell failure. To determine the additive effects of excitotoxicity and overnutrition on β-cell function and gene expression, we analyzed the impact of a high-fat diet (HFD) on knockout mice. Excitotoxicity caused β-cells to be more susceptible to HFD-induced impairment of glucose homeostasis, and these effects were mitigated by verapamil, a Ca channel blocker. Excitotoxicity, overnutrition, and the combination of both stresses caused similar but distinct alterations in the β-cell transcriptome, including additive increases in genes associated with mitochondrial energy metabolism, fatty acid β-oxidation, and mitochondrial biogenesis and their key regulator Overnutrition worsened excitotoxicity-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, increasing metabolic inflexibility and mitochondrial damage. In addition, excitotoxicity and overnutrition, individually and together, impaired both β-cell function and identity by reducing expression of genes important for insulin secretion, cell polarity, cell junction, cilia, cytoskeleton, vesicular trafficking, and regulation of β-cell epigenetic and transcriptional program. Sex had an impact on all β-cell responses, with male animals exhibiting greater metabolic stress-induced impairments than females. Together, these findings indicate that a sustained increase in intracellular Ca, by altering mitochondrial function and impairing β-cell identity, augments overnutrition-induced β-cell failure.
© 2020 by the American Diabetes Association.