Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 deletion impairs glucose tolerance and exacerbates hyperglycemia in type 1 diabetic mice

Lauren M. Aleksunes, Scott A. Reisman, Ronnie L. Yeager, Michael J. Goedken, Curtis D. Klaassen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) induces a battery of cytoprotective genes after oxidative stress. Nrf2 aids in liver regeneration by altering insulin signaling; however, whether Nrf2 participates in hepatic glucose homeostasis is unknown. Compared with wild-type mice, mice lacking Nrf2 (Nrf2-null) have lower basal serum insulin and prolonged hyperglycemia in response to an intraperitoneal glucose challenge. In the present study, blood glucose, serum insulin, urine flow rate, and hepatic expression of glucose-related genes were quantified in male diabetic wild-type and Nrf2-null mice. Type 1 diabetes was induced with a single intraperitoneal dose (200 mg/kg) of streptozotocin (STZ). Histopathology and serum insulin levels confirmed depleted pancreatic β-cells in STZ-treated mice of both genotypes. Five days after STZ, Nrf2-null mice had higher blood glucose levels than wild-type mice. Nine days after STZ, polyuria occurred in both genotypes with more urine output from Nrf2-null mice (11-fold) than wild-type mice (7-fold). Moreover, STZ-treated Nrf2-null mice had higher levels of serum β-hydroxybutyrate, triglycerides, and fatty acids 10 days after STZ compared with wildtype mice. STZ reduced hepatic glycogen in both genotypes, with less observed in Nrf2-null mice. Increased urine output and blood glucose in STZ-treated Nrf2-null mice corresponded with enhanced gluconeogenesis (glucose-6-phosphatase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase)- and reduced glycolysis (pyruvate kinase)-related mRNA expression in their livers. Furthermore, the Nrf2 activator oltipraz lowered blood glucose in wild-type but not Nrf2-null mice administered STZ. Collectively, these data indicate that the absence of Nrf2 worsens hyperglycemia in type I diabetic mice and Nrf2 may represent a therapeutic target for reducing circulating glucose levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-151
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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