Disturbances in NAD+ metabolism have been described as a hallmark for multiple metabolic and age-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes. While alterations in pancreatic β-cell function are critical determinants of whole-body glucose homeostasis, the role of NAD+ metabolism in the endocrine pancreas remains poorly explored. Here, we aimed to evaluate the role of nicotinamide riboside (NR) metabolism in maintaining NAD+ levels and pancreatic β-cell function in pathophysiological conditions.
Whole body and pancreatic β-cell-specific NRK1 knockout (KO) mice were metabolically phenotyped in situations of high-fat feeding and aging. We also analyzed pancreatic β-cell function, β-cell mass and gene expression.
We first demonstrate that NRK1, the essential enzyme for the utilization of NR, is abundantly expressed in pancreatic β-cells. While NR treatment did not alter glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in pancreatic islets from young healthy mice, NRK1 knockout mice displayed glucose intolerance and compromised β-cells response to a glucose challenge upon high-fat feeding or aging. Interestingly, β cell dysfunction stemmed from the functional failure of other organs, such as liver and kidney, and the associated changes in circulating peptides and hormones, as mice lacking NRK1 exclusively in β-cells did not show altered glucose homeostasis.
This work unveils a new physiological role for NR metabolism in the maintenance of glucose tolerance and pancreatic β-cell function in high-fat feeding or aging conditions.