Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is characterized by glucose intolerance during gestation. It is associated with a series of maternal and foetal complications. Interleukin (IL)-34 is a recently discovered pro-inflammatory cytokine that functions as a ligand for colony-stimulating factor-1 receptor (CSF-1R). The contribution of IL-34 in the development of multiple chronic inflammatory diseases and autoimmune diseases has been recently discovered. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether IL-34 participates in the pathogenesis of GDM.
A total of 120 women were enrolled in this study, which included 60 GDM patients and age- and sex-matched healthy pregnant women. The expression of IL-34 in serum, cord blood and placental tissues was analysed by ELISA and Western blot assays. The association between IL-34 levels and clinical features was also studied. We additionally evaluated the effect of recombinant mouse IL-34 (rmIL-34) on apoptosis and pancreatic β cell function.
We found that IL-34 expression is highly increased in serum, cord blood and placental tissues in patients with GDM. In addition, there was a positive association between serum IL-34 and insulin resistance and glucose concentrations. Our data also revealed that IL-34 contributes to the apoptosis of pancreatic β cells in GDM caused by CSF-1R. Furthermore, functional studies found that IL-34 inhibited pancreatic β cell function and cell viability, while CSF-1R inhibitor blocked this effect.
IL-34 plays a crucial role in the development of GDM by targeting CSF-1R, insulin production and β cell function.