Human islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) is a 37-residue peptide that is co-secreted with insulin by the β-cell and might be involved in the pathogenesis of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. We developed an improved assay in vitrobased on the fluorescence of bound thioflavin T to study factors affecting amyloidogenesis. Monomeric IAPP formed amyloid fibrils, as detected by increased fluorescence and by electron microscopy. Fluorimetric analysis revealed that the initial rate of amyloid formation was: (1) proportional to the peptide monomer concentration, (2) maximal at pH 9.5, (3) maximal at 200 mM KCl, and (4) proportional to temperature from 4 to 37 °C. We found that 5-fold and 10-fold molar excesses of proinsulin inhibited fibril formation by 39% and 59% respectively. Insulin was somewhat more potent with 5-fold and 10-fold molar excesses inhibiting fibril formation by 69% and 73% respectively, whereas C-peptide had no effect at these concentrations. Thus at physiological ratios of IAPP to insulin, insulin and proinsulin, but not C-peptide, can retard amyloidogenesis. Because insulin resistance or hyperglycaemia increase the IAPP-to-insulin ratio, increased intracellular IAPP compared with insulin expression in genetically predisposed individuals might contribute to intracellular amyloid formation, β-cell death and the genesis of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

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