Expression and Hypoxic Regulation of the Endothelin System in Endocrine Cells of Human and Rat Pancreatic Islets

Context The success of pancreatic islet transplantation depends largely on the capacity of the islet graft to survive the initial phase immediately after transplantation until revascularization is completed. Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is a strong vasoconstrictor which has been involved in solid organ graft failure but is also known to be a potent mitogenic/antiapoptotic factor which could also potentially enhance the survival of the transplanted islets. Objective Characterization of the endothelin system with regard to a potential endothelin agonist/antagonist treatment. Design Regulated expression of the endothelin system in human and rat pancreatic islets and beta-cell lines was assessed by means of immunohistochemistry, competition binding studies, western blot, RT-PCR, real-time PCR and transplant studies. Results ET-1, ETA- and ETB-receptor immunoreactivity was identified in the endocrine cells of human and rat pancreatic islets. The corresponding mRNA was detectable in rat beta-cell lines and isolated rat and human pancreatic islets. Competition binding studies on rat islets revealed binding sites for both receptor types. ET-1 stimulated the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase, which was prevented by ETAand ETB-receptor antagonists. After exposure to hypoxia equal to post-transplant environment oxygen tension, mRNA levels of ET-1 and ETB-receptor of human islets were robustly induced whereas ETA-receptor mRNA did not show significant changes. Immunostaining signals for ET-1 and ETAreceptor of transplanted rat islets were markedly decreased when compared to native pancreatic sections. Conclusions In pancreatic islets, ET-1 and its receptors are differentially expressed by hypoxia and after transplantation. Our results provide the biological basis for the study of the potential use of endothelin agonists/ antagonists to improve islet transplantation outcome.


Philipp C Nett, Richard Z?llig, Roger Lehmann, Markus Weber, Wolfgang Moritz, Patrick Kugelmeier

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