Metformin lowers diabetic blood glucose primarily by reducing hepatic gluconeogenesis and increasing peripheral glucose uptake. However, possible effects by metformin on beta-cell function are incompletely understood. We speculated that metformin might positively influence insulin secretion through impacting the beta-cell nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-NO system, a negative modulator of glucose-stimulated insulin release. In short-time incubations with isolated murine islets either glibenclamide or high glucose augmented insulin release associated with increased NO production from both neural and inducible NOS. Metformin addition suppressed the augmented NO generation coinciding with amplified insulin release. Islet culturing with glibenclamide or high glucose revealed pronounced fluorescence of inducible NOS in the beta-cells being abolished by metformin co-culturing. These findings were reflected in medium nitrite-nitrate levels. A glucose challenge following islet culturing with glibenclamide or high glucose revealed markedly impaired insulin response. Metformin coculturing restored this response. Culturing murine islets and human islets from controls and type 2 diabetics with high glucose or high glucose + glibenclamide induced a pronounced decrease of cell viability being remarkably restored by metformin co-culturing. We show here, that imposed overactivity of the beta-cell NOS-NO system by glibenclamide or high glucose leads to insulin secretory dysfunction and reduced cell viability and also, importantly, that these effects are relieved by metformin inhibiting beta-cell NO overproduction from both neural and inducible NOS thus ameliorating a concealed negative influence by NO induced by sulfonylurea treatment and/or high glucose levels. This double-edged effect of glibenclamide on the beta-cellsuggests sulfonylurea monotherapy in type 2 diabetes being avoided.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Endocrinology and Diabetes