The role of autophagy in β-cell lipotoxicity and type 2 diabetes

G. Las, O. S. Shirihai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Autophagy, a ubiquitous catabolic pathway involved in both cell survival and cell death, has been implicated in many age-associated diseases. Recent findings have shown autophagy to be crucial for proper insulin secretion and β-cell viability. Transgenic mice lacking autophagy in their β-cells showed decreased β-cell mass and suppressed glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Several studies showed that stress can stimulate autophagy in β-cells: the number of autophagosomes is increased in different in vivo models for diabetes, such as db/db mice, mice fed high-fat diet, pdx-1 knockout mice, as well as in in vitro models of glucotoxicity and lipotoxicity. Pharmacological and molecular inhibition of autophagy increases the susceptibility to cell stress, suggesting that autophagy protects against diabetes-relevant stresses. Recent findings, however, question these conclusions. Pancreases of diabetics and β-cells exposed to fatty acids show accumulation of abnormal autophagosome morphology and suppression of lysosomal gene expression suggesting impairment in autophagic turnover. In this review we attempt to give an overview of the data generated by others and by us in view of the possible role of autophagy in diabetes, a role which depending on the conditions, could be beneficial or detrimental in coping with stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-19
Number of pages5
JournalDiabetes, Obesity and Metabolism
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Autophagosomes
  • Autophagy
  • Diabetes
  • Fatty acids
  • Insulin
  • Lipotoxicity
  • Lysosomes
  • β-cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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