Melnik (2019) Milk exosomal miRNAs: potential drivers of AMPK-to-mTORC1 switching in β-cell de-differentiation of type 2 diabetes mellitus Nutrition & metabolism 16() 85
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) steadily increases in prevalence since the 1950's, the period of widespread distribution of refrigerated pasteurized cow's milk. Whereas breastfeeding protects against the development of T2DM in later life, accumulating epidemiological evidence underlines the role of cow's milk consumption in T2DM. Recent studies in rodent models demonstrate that during the breastfeeding period pancreatic β-cells are metabolically immature and preferentially proliferate by activation of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and suppression of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Weaning determines a metabolic switch of β-cells from a proliferating, immature phenotype with low insulin secretion to a differentiated mature phenotype with glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, less proliferation, reduced mTORC1- but increased AMPK activity. Translational evidence presented in this perspective implies for the first time that termination of milk miRNA transfer is the driver of this metabolic switch. miRNA-148a is a key inhibitor of AMPK and phosphatase and tensin homolog, crucial suppressors of mTORC1. β-Cells of diabetic patients return to the postnatal phenotype with high mTORC1 and low AMPK activity, explained by continuous transfer of bovine milk miRNAs to the human milk consumer. Bovine milk miRNA-148a apparently promotes β-cell de-differentiation to the immature mTORC1-high/AMPK-low phenotype with functional impairments in insulin secretion, increased mTORC1-driven endoplasmic reticulum stress, reduced autophagy and early β-cell apoptosis. In contrast to pasteurized cow's milk, milk's miRNAs are inactivated by bacterial fermentation, boiling and ultra-heat treatment and are missing in current infant formula. Persistent milk miRNA signaling adds a new perspective to the pathogenesis of T2DM and explains the protective role of breastfeeding but the diabetogenic effect of continued milk miRNA signaling by persistent consumption of pasteurized cow's milk. © The Author(s). 2019.