The glucagon response to insulin-induced hypoglycemia (IIH) is markedly impaired early in type 1 diabetes. We have previously demonstrated that this glucagon response is largely autonomically mediated in nondiabetic animals and humans. More recently we discovered an early sympathetic islet neuropathy (eSIN) in human subjects with type 1 diabetes and animal models thereof and therefore hypothesized that eSIN contributes to this glucagon impairment. The purpose of this grant is to determine the mechanism by which 1) only sympathetic nerves are lost, 2) only from the islets and 3) only in autoimmune diabetes. The mechanism that accounts for all three is based on emerging concepts in developmental neurobiology. We hypothesize that brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), secreted by B-lymphocytes invading the islet during the development of autoimmune diabetes, shifts the balance of islet neurotrophins away from "axonal maintenance" via Trk receptors towards "axonal pruning" via the p75 pan-neurotrophin receptor (NTR), causing a selective loss of islet sympathetic nerves and thereby dysfunction of the sympathetic alpha-cell pathway. Therefore our first Specific Aim is to demonstrate the necessity of BDNF for the loss of islet sympathetic nerves. We will localize BDNF in the diabetic islet by a combination of transgenically tagging BDNF and immunohistochemically staining the tag. We will quantify BDNF mRNA in these islets by laser capturing them and using RT-PCR. We will demonstrate the sympathetic neurotoxicity of BDNF by knocking out the BDNF gene and thereby sparing these nerves and preventing the impairment of the glucagon response to sympathetic nerve activation. In our second Specific Aim we will demonstrate the necessity of B-lymphocytes by knocking them out, thus preventing both the loss of islet sympathetic nerves and the impairment of the glucagon response to sympathetic activation. In our third Specific Aim we will prevent the loss of islet sympathetic nerves by knocking out p75NTR, again preserving the glucagon response to sympathetic nerve activation. Significance: Determining the mechanism for the loss of islet sympathetic nerves in type 1 diabetes will allow us to prevent or reverse that loss. Since the sympathetic-alpha cell pathway is activated during IIH and contributes to the glucagon response to IIH, we expect such prevention to improve this glucagon response in type 1 diabetes. Normalizing this glucagon response will reduce the incidence and severity of insulin induced hypoglycemia, allowing more intensive treatment of patients with type 1 diabetes, thereby reducing the chronic hyperglycemia that causes the long-term complications of this disease.

Public Health Relevance

This grant seeks to understand why certain nerves are lost from the islets of people with type 1 diabetes. That understanding will allow us to prevent the nerve loss, which in turn should reduce the incidence of hypoglycemia during diabetes treatment. Prevention of hypoglycemia will allow tighter control of blood sugar, which is known to reduce the long-term complications of diabetes.

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National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
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Integrative Physiology of Obesity and Diabetes Study Section (IPOD)
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Teff, Karen L
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Seattle Institute for Biomedical/Clinical Research
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Taborsky Jr, Gerald J; Mei, Qi; Bornfeldt, Karin E et al. (2014) The p75 neurotrophin receptor is required for the major loss of sympathetic nerves from islets under autoimmune attack. Diabetes 63:2369-79
Taborsky Jr, G J; Mei, Q; Hackney, D J et al. (2014) The search for the mechanism of early sympathetic islet neuropathy in autoimmune diabetes. Diabetes Obes Metab 16 Suppl 1:96-101
Taborsky Jr, Gerald J; Mundinger, Thomas O (2012) Minireview: The role of the autonomic nervous system in mediating the glucagon response to hypoglycemia. Endocrinology 153:1055-62
Taborsky Jr, Gerald J (2010) The physiology of glucagon. J Diabetes Sci Technol 4:1338-44
Taborsky Jr, G J; Mei, Q; Hackney, D J et al. (2009) Loss of islet sympathetic nerves and impairment of glucagon secretion in the NOD mouse: relationship to invasive insulitis. Diabetologia 52:2602-11
Al-Noori, Salwa; Sanders, Nicole M; Taborsky Jr, Gerald J et al. (2008) Acute THPVP inactivation decreases the glucagon and sympathoadrenal responses to recurrent hypoglycemia. Brain Res 1194:65-72
Al-Noori, Salwa; Sanders, Nicole M; Taborsky Jr, Gerald J et al. (2008) Recurrent hypoglycemia alters hypothalamic expression of the regulatory proteins FosB and synaptophysin. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 295:R1446-54
Mundinger, Thomas O; Mei, Qi; Taborsky Jr, Gerald J (2008) Impaired activation of celiac ganglion neurons in vivo after damage to their sympathetic nerve terminals. J Neurosci Res 86:1981-93
Sanders, Nicole M; Wilkinson, Charles W; Taborsky Jr, Gerald J et al. (2008) The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline enhances counterregulatory responses to hypoglycemia. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 294:E853-60
Sanders, Nicole M; Taborsky Jr, Gerald J; Wilkinson, Charles W et al. (2007) Antecedent hindbrain glucoprivation does not impair the counterregulatory response to hypoglycemia. Diabetes 56:217-23

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