Sci Rep 2017 Nov 20;7(1):15823. Epub 2017 Nov 20.
Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.
Sirolimus (rapamycin) is an immunosuppressive drug used in transplantation. One of its major side effects is the increased risk of diabetes mellitus; however, the exact mechanisms underlying such association have not been elucidated. Here we show that sirolimus impairs glucose-stimulated insulin secretion both in human and murine pancreatic islets and in clonal β cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Importantly, we demonstrate that sirolimus markedly depletes calcium (Ca) content in the endoplasmic reticulum and significantly decreases glucose-stimulated mitochondrial Ca uptake. Crucially, the reduced mitochondrial Ca uptake is mirrored by a significant impairment in mitochondrial respiration. Taken together, our findings indicate that sirolimus causes depletion of intracellular Ca stores and alters mitochondrial fitness, eventually leading to decreased insulin release. Our results provide a novel molecular mechanism underlying the increased incidence of diabetes mellitus in patients treated with this drug.