Aims/hypothesis: Islet amyloid deposits are present in over 85% of Type 2 diabetic patients and have been suggested to be pathogenic. The mechanism that converts islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP), the unique component of these deposits, into amyloid fibrils in vivo is not known. The amino acid sequence of IAPP is critical but insufficient for beta-pleated sheet formation. As apolipoprotein E (apoE), another component of islet amyloid deposits, plays a critical role in amyloid formation in Alzheimer's disease, we hypothesised that apoE could play an important role in islet amyloid formation.
Methods: Transgenic mice expressing the human form of IAPP ( hIAPP (+/0)) were crossbred with apoE deficient ( apoE (-/-)) mice and followed for 12 months, at which time the prevalence and severity of islet amyloid, as well as plasma glucose, hIAPP, immunoreactive insulin (IRI) and lipid concentrations were measured.
Results: The prevalence and severity of islet amyloid after one year of follow up were comparable among hIAPP (+/0) mice that were apoE (+/+), apoE (+/-) or apoE (-/-). Differences in glucose tolerance, lipid abnormalities or changes in pancreatic content or plasma concentrations of hIAPP and/or IRI did not account for these findings.
Conclusion/interpretation: Our data shows that, unlike in the localized amyloidosis in the brain characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, apoE is not critical for islet amyloid formation in a transgenic mouse model of Type 2 diabetes mellitus. These results indicate that the mechanisms of localised amyloid formation probably vary among different amyloid-associated disorders. Therefore, therapeutic strategies targeting apoE might not apply equally to patients with different amyloid associated diseases.