Aims/hypothesis: Exposure to environmental pollution has been consistently linked to diabetes incidence in humans, but the potential causative mechanisms remain unclear. Given the critical role of regulated insulin secretion in maintaining glucose homeostasis, environmental chemicals that reach the endocrine pancreas and cause beta cell injury are of particular concern. We propose that cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, which are involved in metabolising xenobiotics, could serve as a useful biomarker for direct exposure of islets to pollutants. Moreover, functional CYP enzymes in islets could also impact beta cell physiology. The aim of this study was to determine whether CYP1A enzymes are activated in islets following direct or systemic exposure to environmental pollutants. Methods: Immortalised liver (HepG2) and rodent pancreatic endocrine cell lines (MIN6, βTC-6, INS1, α-TC1, α-TC3), as well as human islets, were treated in vitro with known CYP1A inducers 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and 3-methylcholanthrene (3-MC). In addition, mice were injected with either a single high dose of TCDD or multiple low doses of TCDD in vivo, and islets were isolated 1, 7 or 14 days later. Results: CYP1A enzymes were not activated in any of the immortalised beta or alpha cell lines tested. However, both 3-MC and TCDD potently induced CYP1A1 gene expression and modestly increased CYP1A1 enzyme activity in human islets after 48 h. The induction of CYP1A1 in human islets by TCDD was prevented by cotreatment with a cytokine mixture. After a systemic single high-dose TCDD injection, CYP1A1 enzyme activity was induced in mouse islets ~2-fold, ~40-fold and ~80-fold compared with controls after 1, 7 and 14 days, respectively, in vivo. Multiple low-dose TCDD exposure in vivo also caused significant upregulation of Cyp1a1 in mouse islets. Direct TCDD exposure to human and mouse islets in vitro resulted in suppressed glucose-induced insulin secretion. A single high-dose TCDD injection resulted in lower plasma insulin levels, as well as a pronounced increase in beta cell death. Conclusions/interpretation: Transient exposure to TCDD results in long-term upregulation of CYP1A1 enzyme activity in islets. This provides evidence for direct exposure of islets to lipophilic pollutants in vivo and may have implications for islet physiology.

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Department of Biology

Ibrahim, M. (Muna), MacFarlane, E.M. (Erin M.), Matteo, G. (Geronimo), Hoyeck, M.P. (Myriam P.), Rick, K.R.C. (Kayleigh R. C.), Farokhi, S. (Salar), … Bruin, J.E. (2020). Functional cytochrome P450 1A enzymes are induced in mouse and human islets following pollutant exposure. Diabetologia, 63(1), 162–178. doi:10.1007/s00125-019-05035-0