Impaired mitochondrial calcium uptake caused by tacrolimus underlies beta-cell failure

Angela Lombardi, Bruno Trimarco, Guido Iaccarino, Gaetano Santulli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: One of the most common side effects of the immunosuppressive drug tacrolimus (FK506) is the increased risk of new-onset diabetes mellitus. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this association have not been fully clarified. Methods: We studied the effects of the therapeutic dose of tacrolimus on mitochondrial fitness in beta-cells. Results: We demonstrate that tacrolimus impairs glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) in beta-cells through a previously unidentified mechanism. Indeed, tacrolimus causes a decrease in mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake, accompanied by altered mitochondrial respiration and reduced ATP production, eventually leading to impaired GSIS. Conclusion: Our observations individuate a new fundamental mechanism responsible for the augmented incidence of diabetes following tacrolimus treatment. Indeed, this drug alters Ca2+ fluxes in mitochondria, thereby compromising metabolism-secretion coupling in beta-cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number47
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 13 2017


  • ATP
  • Ca leak
  • Diabetes
  • Immunosuppressive regimen
  • Insulin release
  • Mitochondrial calcium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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