Carbohydrate response element-binding protein (ChREBP) plays a pivotal role in beta cell glucotoxicity

N. Poungvarin, J. K. Lee, V. K. Yechoor, M. V. Li, T. Assavapokee, P. Suksaranjit, J. J. Thepsongwajja, P. K. Saha, K. Oka, L. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Aims/hypothesis This study was aimed at the elucidation of the pathogenesis of glucotoxicity, i.e. the mechanism whereby hyperglycaemia damages pancreatic beta cells. The identification of pathways in the process may help identify targets for beta cell-protective therapy. Carbohydrate response elementbinding protein (ChREBP), a transcription factor that regulates the expression of multiple hyperglycaemia-induced genes, is produced in abundance in pancreatic beta cells. We hypothesise that ChREBP plays a pivotal role in mediating beta cell glucotoxicity. Methods We assessed the role of ChREBP in glucotoxicity in 832/13 beta cells, isolated mouse islets and human pancreas tissue sections using multiple complementary approaches under control and high-glucose-challenge conditions as well as in adeno-associated virus-induced beta cell-specific overexpression of Chrebp (also known as Mlxipl) in mice. Results Under both in vitro and in vivo conditions, ChREBP activates downstream target genes, including fatty acid synthase and thioredoxin-interacting protein, leading to lipid accumulation, increased oxidative stress, reduced insulin gene transcription/secretion and enhanced caspase activity and apoptosis, processes that collectively define glucotoxicity. Immunoreactive ChREBP is enriched in the nucleuses of beta cells in pancreatic tissue sections from diabetic individuals compared with non-diabetic individuals. Finally, we demonstrate that induced beta cell-specific Chrebp overexpression is sufficient to phenocopy the glucotoxicity manifestations of hyperglycaemia in mice in vivo. Conclusions/interpretation These data indicate that ChREBP is a key transcription factor that mediates many of the hyperglycaemia-induced activations in a gene expression programme that underlies beta cell glucotoxicity at the molecular, cellular and whole animal levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1783-1796
Number of pages14
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants HL R01-51586 to L. Chan, and by the Diabetes & Endocrinology Research Center (P30-DK079638) at BCM. L. Chan also received support from the Betty Rutherford Chair for Diabetes Research from St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, the T.T. & W.F. Chao Global Foundation.


  • Beta cell apoptosis
  • Beta cell dysfunction
  • ChREBP
  • Glucotoxicity


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