The parasite-derived peptide FhHDM-1 activates the PI3K/Akt pathway to prevent cytokine-induced apoptosis of β-cells

Inah Camaya, Tsz Mok, Maria Lund, Joyce To, Nady Braidy, Mark W. Robinson, Jerran Santos, Bronwyn O'Brien, Sheila Donnelly*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Downloads (Pure)


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease characterised by the destruction of the insulin-producing beta (β)-cells within the pancreatic islets. We have previously identified a novel parasite-derived molecule, termed Fasciola hepatica helminth defence molecule 1 (FhHDM-1), that prevents T1D development in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice. In this study, proteomic analyses of pancreas tissue from NOD mice suggested that FhHDM-1 activated the PI3K/Akt signalling pathway, which is associated with β-cell metabolism, survival and proliferation. Consistent with this finding, FhHDM-1 preserved β-cell mass in NOD mice. Examination of the biodistribution of FhHDM-1 after intraperitoneal administration in NOD mice revealed that the parasite peptide localised to the pancreas, suggesting that it exerted a direct effect on the survival/function of β-cells. This was confirmed in vitro, as the interaction of FhHDM-1 with the NOD-derived β-cell line, NIT-1, resulted in increased levels of phosphorylated Akt, increased NADH and NADPH and reduced activity of the NAD-dependent DNA nick sensor, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP-1). As a consequence, β-cell survival was enhanced and apoptosis was prevented in the presence of the pro-inflammatory cytokines that destroy β-cells during T1D pathogenesis. Similarly, FhHDM-1 protected primary human islets from cytokine-induced apoptosis. Importantly, while FhHDM-1 promoted β-cell survival, it did not induce proliferation. Collectively, these data indicate that FhHDM-1 has significant therapeutic applications to promote β-cell survival, which is required for T1D and T2D prevention and islet transplantation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number236
JournalJournal of Molecular Medicine
Early online date10 Aug 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 10 Aug 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'The parasite-derived peptide FhHDM-1 activates the PI3K/Akt pathway to prevent cytokine-induced apoptosis of β-cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this