Pancreatic β-cell dysfunction and insulin resistance are the main characteristics of type 2 diabetes. Chronic exposure of β-cells to hyperglycemia leads to the deterioration of β-cell function. Such phenomena are well known as pancreatic β-cell glucose toxicity. MafA, a strong transactivator of insulin gene, is particularly important for the maintenance of mature β-cell function, but its expression level is significantly reduced under diabetic conditions which is likely associated with β-cell failure. Reduction of incretin receptor expression level in β-cells in diabetes is also likely associated with β-cell failure. On the other hand, incretin-related drugs and sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors are promising diabetes therapy based on the mechanism for pancreatic β-cell glucose toxicity. Indeed, it was shown that incretin-related drugs exerted protective effects on β-cells through the augmentation of IRS-2 expression especially in the presence of pioglitazone. It was also shown that incretin-related drug and/or pioglitazone exerted more protective effects on β-cells at the early stage of diabetes compared to the advanced stage. SGLT2 inhibitors, new hypoglycemic agents, also exert beneficial effects for the protection of pancreatic β-cells as well as for the reduction of insulin resistance in various insulin target tissues. Taken together, it is important to select appropriate therapy based on the molecular mechanism for glucose toxicity.
Keywords: Glucose toxicity, insulin, MafA, incretin, SGLT2.