Background: The pathology of diabetic neuropathy involves oxidative stress on pancreatic β-cells, and is related to decreased levels of Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Acylated steryl β-glucoside (PR-ASG) found in pre-germiated brown rice is a bioactive substance exhibiting properties that enhance activity of homocysteine-thiolactonase (HTase), reducing oxidative stress in diabetic neuropathy. The biological importance of PR-ASG in pancreatic β-cells remains unknown. Here we examined the effects of PR-ASG on IGF-1 and glucose metabolism in β-cells exposed to oxidative stress. Methodology/Principal Findings: In the present study, a pre-germinated brown rice (PR)-diet was tested in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats. Compared with diabetic rats fed control diets, the PR-diet fed rats showed an improvement of serum metabolic and neurophysiological parameters. In addition, IGF-1 levels were found to be increased in the serum, liver, and pancreas of diabetic rats fed the PR-diet. The increased IGF-1 level in the pancreas led us to hypothesize that PR-ASG is protective for islet β-cells against the extensive injury of advanced or severe diabetes. Thus we examined PR-ASG to determine whether it showed anti-apoptotic, pro-proliferative effects on the insulin-secreting β-cells line, INS-1; and additionally, whether PR-ASG stimulated IGF-1 autocrine secretion/IGF-1-dependent glucose metabolism. We have demonstrated for the first time that PR-ASG increases IGF-1 production and secretion from pancreatic β-cells. Conclusion/Significance: These findings suggest that PR-ASG may affect pancreatic β-cells through the activation of an IGF-1-dependent mechanism in the diabetic condition. Thus, intake of pre-germinated brown rice may have a beneficial effect in the treatment of diabetes, in particular diabetic neuropathy.
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