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AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: Hypoxic damage complicates islet isolation for transplantation and may contribute to beta cell failure in type 2 diabetes. Polymorphisms in the SLC30A8 gene, encoding the secretory granule zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8), influence type 2 diabetes risk, conceivably by modulating cytosolic Zn(2+) levels. We have therefore explored the role of ZnT8 and cytosolic Zn(2+) in the response to hypoxia of pancreatic islet cells. METHODS: Human, mouse or rat islets were isolated and exposed to varying O2 tensions. Cytosolic free zinc was measured using the adenovirally expressed recombinant targeted zinc probe eCALWY4. Gene expression was measured using quantitative (q)RT-PCR, western (immuno-) blotting or immunocytochemistry. Beta cells were identified by insulin immunoreactivity. RESULTS: Deprivation of O2 (1% vs 5% or 21%) for 24 h lowered free cytosolic Zn(2+) concentrations by ~40% (p 12 weeks) Slc30a8 null mice vs controls, but not younger animals. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: The response of pancreatic beta cells to hypoxia is characterised by decreased SLC30A8 expression and lowered cytosolic Zn(2+) concentrations. The dependence on ZnT8 of hypoxia-induced changes in cell survival may contribute to the actions of SLC30A8 variants on diabetes risk in humans.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1635 - 1644


Animals, Cation Transport Proteins, Cytosol, Humans, Hypoxia, Insulin-Secreting Cells, Islets of Langerhans, Metallothionein, Mice, Rats, Zinc, Zinc Transporter 8