Glucose and insulin are needed for optimal defensin expression in human cell lines

Maayan Barnea, Zecharia Madar, Oren Froy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Many infections are associated with diabetes, as the ability of the body to fight pathogens is impaired. Recently, low levels of defensins have been found in diabetic rodents. However, whether hyperglycemia and/or insulin deficiency/insensitivity is the reason for the reduced defensin levels is still unknown. To study the functionality of the innate immune system during hyperglycemia, the expression levels of human beta-defensin-1 (hBD-1) was measured in human embryonic kidney (HEK-293) and colon adenocarcinoma (HCT-116) cells treated with different concentrations of glucose and insulin. Increasing concentrations of glucose enhanced hBD-1 expression and these levels were further elevated after insulin treatment. Insulin treatment also led to the up-regulation of human sodium/glucose transporter 1 (hSGLT1), which further increases intracellular glucose levels. Thus, our findings suggest for the first time that insulin signaling is important for hBD-1 optimal expression by elevating intracellular glucose levels and by mediating gene expression.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)452-456
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - 7 Mar 2008


  • Defensins
  • Glucose
  • Insulin
  • SGLT1
  • hBD-1


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