An 'alpha-beta' of pancreatic islet microribonucleotides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are cellular, short, non-coding ribonucleotides acting as endogenous posttranscriptional repressors following incorporation in the RNA-induced silencing complex. Despite being chemically and mechanistically very similar, miRNAs exert a multitude of different cellular effects by acting on mRNA species, whose gene-products partake in a wide array of processes.Here, the aim was to review the knowledge of miRNA expression and action in the islet of Langerhans. We have focused on: 1) physiological consequences of islet or beta cell specific inhibition of miRNA processing, 2) mechanisms regulating processing of miRNAs in islet cells, 3) presence and function of miRNAs in alpha versus beta cells - the two main cell types of islets, and 4) miRNA mediators of beta cell decompensation.It is clear that miRNAs regulate pancreatic islet development, maturation, and function in vivo. Moreover, processing of miRNAs appears to be altered by obesity, diabetes, and aging. A number of miRNAs (such as miR-7, miR-21, miR-29, miR-34a, miR-212/miR-132, miR-184, miR-200 and miR-375) are involved in mediating beta cell dysfunction and/or compensation induced by hyperglycemia, oxidative stress, cytotoxic cytokines, and in rodent models of fetal metabolic programming prediabetes and overt diabetes. Studies of human type 2 diabetic islets underline that these miRNA families could have important roles also in human type 2 diabetes.Furthermore, there is a genuine gap of knowledge regarding miRNA expression and function in pancreatic alpha cells. Progress in this area would be enhanced by improved in vitro alpha cell models and better tools for islet cell sorting.


External organisations
  • Roskilde University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology and Diabetes


  • Alpha cell, Beta cell, Diabetes, Gene-expression, Glucagon secretion, Insulin secretion, Islet of langerhans, MicroRNA, Non-coding RNAs, Pancreas, Stem cell, Translational repression
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-219
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Early online date2017 Jan 22
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul
Publication categoryResearch