Islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) is the constituent peptide of amyloid deposits found in the islets of non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients. Formation of islet amyloid is associated with a progressive destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. Factors responsible for the conversion of IAPP into insoluble amyloid fibrils are unknown. Both the amino acid sequence of human IAPP (hIAPP) and hypersecretion of hIAPP have been implicated as factors for amyloid fibril formation in man. We have generated transgenic mice using rat insulin promoter-hIAPP or rat IAPP (rIAPP) gene constructs. No fibrillar islet amyloid was detectable in vivo in these normoglycemic mice, although small amorphous perivascular accumulations of IAPP were observed in hIAPP mice only. To determine the effects of glucose on IAPP secretion and fibrillogenesis, pancreatic islets from transgenic and control mice were examined in vitro. Islet IAPP secretion and content were increased in transgenic islets compared with control islets. IAPP-immunoreactive fibrils were formed at both intra- and extracellular sites in isolated hIAPP islets cultured with glucose at 11.1 and 28 mM for only 7 days. At 28 mM glucose, fibrils were present in deep invaginations of beta cells as observed in non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients. No fibrils were present at low glucose concentrations in hIAPP islets or at any glucose concentration in rIAPP or control islets. Thus, glucose-induced expression and secretion of hIAPP in transgenic mouse islets can lead to formation of amyloid fibrils similar to that found in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
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