Targeting pancreatic islet NLRP3 improves islet graft revascularization
Hypoxia-induced islet cell death, caused by an insufficient revascularization of the grafts, is a major obstacle for successful pancreatic islet transplantation. Recently, it has been reported that the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptor protein (NLRP)3 inflammasome is expressed in pancreatic islets and its loss protects against hypoxia-induced cell death. Therefore, we hypothesized that the inhibition of NLRP3 in islets improves the survival and endocrine function of the grafts. The transplantation of Nlrp3-/- islets or WT islets exposed to the NLRP3 inhibitor CY-09 into mouse dorsal skinfold chambers resulted in an improved revascularization when compared to controls. An increased insulin release after NLRP3 inhibition caused the enhanced angiogenic response. Moreover, the inhibition of NLRP3 in hypoxic β-cells triggered insulin gene expression by inducing the shuttling of MafA as well as pancreatic and duodenal homeobox (PDX)-1 into the nucleus. This was mediated by a reduced interaction of NLRP3 with the thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP). Transplantation of Nlrp3-/- islets or WT islets exposed to CY-09 under the kidney capsule of diabetic mice markedly improved the restoration of normoglycemia. These findings indicate that the inhibition of NLRP3 in isolated islets represents a promising therapeutic strategy to improve engraftment and function of the islets.