International journal of molecular medicine

Silibinin protects β cells from glucotoxicity through regulation of the Insig-1/SREBP-1c pathway.

PMID 25109869


Exposure to high glucose may cause glucotoxicity, leading to pancreatic β cell dysfunction including cell apoptosis, impaired glucose‑stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) and intracellular lipid accumulation. Sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c), a key nuclear transcription factor that regulates lipid metabolism, has been proven to play a role in insulin secretion. Insulin induced gene-1 (Insig-1) is an upstream regulatory factor of SREBP-1c. The overexpression of Insig-1 significantly inhibits SREBP-1c expression and thereby blocks the expression of downstream genes. It has been proven that silibinin, a natural flavanone, is involved in a variety of biological functions. In the present study, we examined whether silibinin protects high glucose-induced β cell dysfunction through the Insig-1/SREBP-1c pathway. Our data demonstrated that 30.0 µM of silibinin significantly improved cell viability (P<0.05) after rat insulinoma INS-1 cells were exposed to high glucose for 72 h. Silibinin partially attenuated GSIS following exposure to high glucose for either 24 or 72 h (both P<0.05). As shown by reverse transcription quantitative PCR, silibinin upregulated the mRNA expression of insulin secretion‑related genes [insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS-2), pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 (PDX-1) and insulin], but downregulated uncoupling protein‑2 (UCP-2) expression. Silibinin inhibited intracellular lipid accumulation and free fatty acid (FFA) synthesis. Further experiments revealed that silibinin improved β cell function through the regulation of the Insig-1/SREBP-1c pathway. In conclusion, these results clearly suggest that the protection of β cells from glucotoxicity can be significantly enhanced through the regulation of the Insig-1/SREBP-1c pathway. Thus, silibinin may be a novel therapeutic agent for β cell dysfunction.

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Flavanone, 98%