Background: The relationship between urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) was investigated in the study by using mice and cell models, as well as patients with T2DM. Methods: In mice models, wild-type and uPA knockout (uPA-/-) BALB/c mice were used for induction of T2DM. In cell models, insulin secretion rate and β cell proliferation were assessed in normal and high glucose after treating uPA siRNA, uPA, or anti-uPA antibody. In our clinical study, patients with T2DM received an oral glucose-tolerance test, and the relationship between uPA and insulin secretion was assessed. Results: Insulin particles and insulin secretion were mildly restored one month after induction in wild-type mice, but not in uPA-/-mice. In cell models, insulin secretion rate and cell proliferation declined in high glucose after uPA silencing either by siRNA or by anti-uPA antibody. After treatment with uPA, β cell proliferation increased in normal glucose. In clinical study, patients with T2DM and higher uPA levels had better ability of insulin secretion than those with lower uPA levels. Conclusion: uPA may play a substantial role in insulin secretion, β cell regeneration, and progressive development of T2DM. Supplementation of uPA might be a novel approach for prevention and treatment of T2DM in the future.
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