Endocrinology Journal Article

Voclosporin Versus Tacrolimus on Insulin Release

November 02, 2020
 

Jelena Kolic, Leanne Beet, Peter Overby, Haoning Howard Cen, Evgeniy Panzhinskiy, Daren R Ure, Jennifer L Cross, Robert B Huizinga, James D Johnson
Endocrinology, Volume 161, Issue 11, November 2020, bqaa162
https://doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqaa162

Abstract

The incidence of new onset diabetes after transplant (NODAT) has increased over the past decade, likely due to calcineurin inhibitor–based immunosuppressants, including tacrolimus (TAC) and cyclosporin. Voclosporin (VCS), a next-generation calcineurin inhibitor, is reported to cause fewer incidences of NODAT but the reason is unclear. While calcineurin signaling plays important roles in pancreatic β-cell survival, proliferation, and function, its effects on human β-cells remain understudied. In particular, we do not understand why some calcineurin inhibitors have more profound effects on the incidence of NODAT. We compared the effects of TAC and VCS on the dynamics of insulin secretory function, programmed cell death rate, and the transcriptomic profile of human islets. We studied 2 clinically relevant doses of TAC (10 ng/mL, 30 ng/mL) and VCS (20 ng/mL, 60 ng/mL), meant to approximate the clinical trough and peak concentrations. TAC, but not VCS, caused a significant impairment of 15 mM glucose-stimulated and 30 mM KCl-stimulated insulin secretion. This points to molecular defects in the distal stages of exocytosis after voltage-gated Ca2+ entry. No significant effects on islet cell survival or total insulin content were identified. RNA sequencing showed that TAC significantly decreased the expression of 17 genes, including direct and indirect regulators of exocytosis (SYT16, TBC1D30, PCK1, SMOC1, SYT5, PDK4, and CREM), whereas VCS has less broad, and milder, effects on gene expression. Clinically relevant doses of TAC, but not VCS, directly inhibit insulin secretion from human islets, likely via transcriptional control of exocytosis machinery.

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