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    Protection of pancreatic islet cells against dysfunction or death by regulating autophagy is considered to be an effective method for treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Morus alba leaves (mulberry leaves), a popular herbal medicine, have been used for prevention of T2DM since ancient times. This study aimed to clarify whether Morus alba leaves ethanol extract (MLE) could protect islet cells in vivo and in vitro by regulating autophagy in T2DM, and explore the possible mechanism of action. The main chemical constituents in MLE were analyzed by HPLC. The T2DM rat model was induced via high-fat diet combined with peritoneal injection of low-dose streptozotocin, and MLE was administered by oral gavage. Fasting blood glucose (FBG) and plasma insulin were measured, and homeostatic model assessment of β cell function (HOMA-β) and insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were determined. The histomorphology of pancreas islets was evaluated by haematoxylin and eosin staining. In palmitic acid (PA)-stressed INS-1 rat insulinoma cells, cell viability was assayed by an MTT method. Expression of the autophagy-related proteins LC3 I/II, p62, p-AMPK and p-mTOR in islet tissues and INS-1 cells was evaluated by western blotting or immunohistochemistry analysis. The four main chemical constituents in MLE were identified as chlorogenic acid, rutin, isoquercitrin and quercitrin. MLE ameliorated hyperglycemia, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia of T2DM rats with prominent therapeutic effect. Further study indicated that MLE observably improved islet function, alleviated islet injury of T2DM rats, and inhibited PA-induced INS-1 cell death. On the other hand, MLE significantly induced autophagy in islet cells both in vivo and in vitro, and autophagy inhibitors abolished its therapeutic effect on T2DM rats and protective effect on islet cells. Apart from this, MLE markedly activated the AMPK/mTOR pathway in INS-1 cells, and the AMPK inhibitor prevented the autophagy induction ability of MLE. Together, MLE could protect islet cells against dysfunction and death by inducing AMPK/mTOR-mediated autophagy in T2DM, and these findings provide a new perspective for understanding the treatment mechanism of Morus alba leaves against T2DM. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

    Citation

    Shuai Ji, Cuicui Zhu, Shikai Gao, Xian Shao, Xiaofei Chen, Hui Zhang, Daoquan Tang. Morus alba leaves ethanol extract protects pancreatic islet cells against dysfunction and death by inducing autophagy in type 2 diabetes. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology. 2021 Mar;83:153478

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    PMID: 33567371

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