Glucose-Induced Changes in Gene Expression in Human Pancreatic Islets: Causes or Consequences of Chronic Hyperglycemia

Dysregulation of gene expression in islets from patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) might be causally involved in the development of hyperglycemia, or it could develop as a consequence of hyperglycemia (i.e., glucotoxicity). To separate the genes that could be causally involved in pathogenesis from those likely to be secondary to hyperglycemia, we exposed islets from human donors to normal or high glucose concentrations for 24 h and analyzed gene expression. We compared these findings with gene expression in islets from donors with normal glucose tolerance and hyperglycemia (including T2D). The genes whose expression changed in the same direction after short-term glucose exposure, as in T2D, were considered most likely to be a consequence of hyperglycemia. Genes whose expression changed in hyperglycemia but not after short-term glucose exposure, particularly those that also correlated with insulin secretion, were considered the strongest candidates for causal involvement in T2D. For example, ERO1LB, DOCK10, IGSF11, and PRR14L were downregulated in donors with hyperglycemia and correlated positively with insulin secretion, suggesting a protective role, whereas TMEM132C was upregulated in hyperglycemia and correlated negatively with insulin secretion, suggesting a potential pathogenic role. This study provides a catalog of gene expression changes in human pancreatic islets after exposure to glucose.