We previously reported that treatment with a JNK inhibitory peptide (11R-JNKI) prevents islet apoptosis and enhances the islet function in vivo. In the present study, we explored more efficient JNK inhibitors. The inhibition of the JNK activity by five types of deletion peptides in 11R-JNKI was investigated. One of the peptides, 8R-sJNKI(-9), significantly prevented JNK activation. At a concentration of 1 µM, 8R-sJNKI(-9) inhibited JNK activity similarly to 10 µM 11R-JNKI and the inhibition of the JNK activity by 10 µM 8R-sJNKI(-9) was significantly greater than that by 10 µM 11R-JNK. To evaluate the effects of 8R-sJNKI(-9), porcine islets were cultured with 1 µM of 8R-sJNKI(-9) or 8R-mutant sJNKI(-9) (8R-mJNKI(-9)). After 1 day of culture, the numbers of islets in the 8R-sJNKI(-9)-treated group was significantly higher than that in the 8R-mJNKI(-9)-treated group. After islet transplantation, the blood glucose levels reached the normoglycemic range in 58.3% of streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice in the 8R-sJNKI(-9) group and 0% of the mice in the 8R-mJNKI(-9)-treated group. These data suggest that 8R-sJNKI(-9) inhibits islet apoptosis and improves islet function.
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