The MDM2 inhibitor Nutlin-3 attenuates streptozotocin-induced diabetes mellitus and increases serum level of IL-12p40

Paola Secchiero, Barbara Toffoli, Elisabetta Melloni, Chiara Agnoletto, Lorenzo Monasta, Giorgio Zauli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Besides its well-established oncosuppressor activity, a key function of p53 in regulating metabolic pathways has been recently identified. Nevertheless, the role of p53 with respect to diabetes mellitus (DM) appears highly controversial. To address this issue, we have used the cis-imidazoline compound Nutlin-3, an inhibitor of MDM2/p53 interaction, which represents a potent and selective non-genotoxic activator of the p53 pathway both in in vivo and in vitro experimental settings. Experimental DM was induced by intraperitoneal injections of low concentrations of streptozotocin (STZ) in C57BL/6N mice (n = 20). A group of control vehicle-injected mice (n = 10) and of STZ-treated mice (n = 10) was co-injected with Nutlin-3. Mice co-injected with STZ + Nutlin-3 exhibited attenuated features of DM with respect to animals treated with STZ alone. Indeed, STZ + Nutlin-3-treated mice were characterized by significantly (p <0.05) lower levels of hyperglycemia, reduced weight loss, and increased spleen weight. In addition, STZ alone promoted a marked decrease in the levels of several circulating cytokines, including interleukin-12 (IL-12)p40. On the other hand, co-injection of STZ + Nutlin-3 significantly (p <0.01) counteracted IL-12p40 down-modulation. In vitro experiments performed on the RAW264.7 macrophagic cell line model, used as cellular source of IL-12p40, demonstrated that Nutlin-3 treatment increased IL-12p40 release, strongly suggesting a direct effect of Nutlin-3 on the immune system. Overall, these data demonstrate that systemic administration of Nutlin-3 ameliorates the severity of STZ-induced DM and increases the levels of circulating IL-12p40.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-906
Number of pages8
JournalActa Diabetologica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Diabetes mellitus
  • IL-12p40
  • Nutlin-3
  • Serum cytokines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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