Beta Cell Stress Markers Detected in Individuals with T1D

Stress within the major cellular machinery that produces proteins can be caused by a buildup of mis-shaped proteins. Due to their high degree of protein secretion, beta cells are uniquely sensitive to this type of cellular stress and it has long been suggested that T1D is associated with increased beta cell stress leading to decreased beta cell function and ultimately beta cell death. Much of the prior work on beta cell stress has been obtained from animals. In this study, Dr. Decio Eizirik examined donated samples from patients with long-term or recent-onset T1D for evidence of beta cell stress. Dr. Eizirik identified a significant increase in key markers of beta cell stress in these human beta cell/islet samples regardless of stage of their T1D disease. These results demonstrate that beta cell stress is an important component of human T1D and suggest that therapeutic strategies to alleviate beta cell stress could have utility in preventing or delaying progression of all stages of T1D.


Marhfour, I., Lopez, XM., Lefkaditis, D. et al. (2012). Expression of endoplasmic reticulum stress markers in the islets of patients with type 1 diabetes. Diabetologia 55, 2417-2420.

Investigators and Institutions:

This work was led by Dr. Decio Eizirik at the University of Brussels.

Ramifications for Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes:

This research confirms the occurrence of stress within the beta cell machinery of humans with T1D. This stress appears to be playing a role in beta cell dysfunction and death in human T1D. These findings suggest that drugs could be developed to alleviate this beta cell stress to help delay or stop progression of the T1D disease process  a key goal of JDRFs Regeneration Program.

JDRF Involvement:

This work was funded, in part, by a JDRF grant to Dr. Eizirik and through JDRFs support of the Network of Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD).