AIM: To explore the bioactivity of an ethanolic extract of Schizandra arisanensis (SA-Et) and isolated constituents against interleukin-1β and interferon-γ-mediated β cell death and abolition of insulin secretion.METHODS: By employing BRIN-BD11 cells, the effects of SA-Et administration on cytokine-mediated cell death and abolition of insulin secretion were evaluated by a viability assay, cell cycle analysis, and insulin assay. The associated gene and protein expressions were also measured. In addition, the bioactivities of several peak compounds collected from the SA-Et were tested against cytokine-mediated β cell death.RESULTS: Our results revealed that SA-Et dose-dependently ameliorated cytokine-mediated β cell death and apoptosis. Instead of suppressing inducible nitric oxide synthase/nitric oxide cascade or p38MAPK activity, suppression of stress-activated protein kinase/c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase activity appeared to be the target for SA-Et against the cytokine mix. In addition, SA-Et provided some insulinotropic effects which re-activated the abolished insulin exocytosis in cytokine-treated BRIN-BD11 cells. Finally, schiarisanrin A and B isolated from the SA-Et showed a dose-dependent protective effect against cytokine-mediated β cell death.CONCLUSION: This is the first report on SA-Et ameliorating cytokine-mediated β cell death and dysfunction via anti-apoptotic and insulinotropic actions.