Politecnico di Torino - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino, ITALY

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Beta-cellsInsulinIrisinIslets of LangerhansPancreas


Our invention concerns the possible use of irisin, a hormone secreted by skeletal muscle and in a lesser quantity from adipose tissue in response to various stimuli, as a drug/strategy for the preservation of the functionality and survival of the pancreatic islets of Langerhans and, in particular, of the beta-cells that are involved in the production of insulin.

Technical features

The experimental results we obtained in vitro in human (1.1B4) and rat (INS-1E) immortalized beta-cells, as well as in human and murine pancreatic islets, and in vivo in C57BL/6 mice demonstrate the ability of irisin to induce insulin synthesis and increase of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Furthermore, irisin promotes beta-cells proliferation and reduces beta-cell death induced by exposure to various harmful stimuli. These properties make irisin a valid strategy to preserve beta-cell function and mass: (i) in disorders characterized by alterations of the secretory function and/or reduction in the number of beta-cells (e.g., pre-diabetes); (ii) ex vivo in conditions in which it is important to limit beta-cell dysfunction and loss (pancreatic islet transplantation); and (iii) in circumstances characterized by modifications of the normal architecture/function of the pancreatic islet.

Possible Applications

Preserve beta-cell function and mass in:

  • Pre-diabetic subjects;
  • Islets isolated from multi-organ donors before being reinfused in recipients;
  • Circumstances characterized by modifications of the normal architecture/function of the pancreatic islet.


  • Possibility to be used in a pre-diabetes condition;
  • Positive effects on different organs and tissues (multidisciplinary approach);
  • It is a molecule produced by the organism: minimal risk of non-tolerability and/or toxicity;
  • Possibility to be used in pancreatic islet transplantation (ex vivo).