SLC30A8 encodes the zinc transporter ZnT8. SLC30A8 haploinsufficiency protects against type 2 diabetes (T2D), suggesting that ZnT8 inhibitors may prevent T2D. We show here that, while adult chow fed Slc30a8 haploinsufficient and knockout (KO) mice have normal glucose tolerance, they are protected against diet-induced obesity (DIO), resulting in improved glucose tolerance. We hypothesize that this protection against DIO may represent one mechanism whereby SLC30A8 haploinsufficiency protects against T2D in humans and that, while SLC30A8 is predominantly expressed in pancreatic islet beta cells, this may involve a role for ZnT8 in extra-pancreatic tissues. Consistent with this latter concept we show in humans, using electronic health record-derived phenotype analyses, that the ‘C’ allele of the non-synonymous rs13266634 single nucleotide polymorphism, which confers a gain of ZnT8 function, is associated not only with increased T2D risk and blood glucose but also but also increased risk for hemolytic anemia and decreased mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH). In Slc30a8 KO mice MCH was unchanged but reticulocytes, platelets and lymphocytes were elevated. Both young and adult Slc30a8 KO mice exhibit delayed rise in insulin after glucose injection but only the former exhibit increased basal insulin clearance and impaired glucose tolerance. Young Slc30a8 KO mice also exhibit elevated pancreatic G6pc2 gene expression, potentially mediated by decreased islet zinc levels. These data indicate that the absence of ZnT8 results in a transient impairment in some aspects of metabolism during development. These observations in humans and mice suggest the potential for negative effects associated with T2D prevention using ZnT8 inhibitors.

References

PubMed