Pancreatic beta cell (β) dysfunction is an outcome of malnutrition. We assessed the role of the amplifying pathway (AMP PATH) in β cells in malnourished obese mice. C57Bl-6 mice were fed a control (C) or a low-protein diet (R). The groups were then fed a high-fat diet (CH and RH). AMP PATH contribution to insulin secretion was assessed upon incubating islets with diazoxide and KCl. CH and RH displayed increased glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Only RH showed a higher contribution of the AMP PATH. The mitochondrial membrane potential of RH was decreased, and ATP flux was unaltered. In RH islets, glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) protein content and activity increased, and the AMP PATH contribution was reestablished when GDH was blunted. Thus, protein malnutrition induces mitochondrial dysfunction in β cells, leading to an increased contribution of the AMP PATH to insulin secretion through the enhancement of GDH content and activity.
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