Thiol reducing compounds prevent human amylin-evoked cytotoxicity

FEBS J. 2005 Oct;272(19):4949-59. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2005.04903.x.


Human amylin (hA) is a small fibrillogenic protein that is the major constituent of pancreatic islet amyloid, which occurs in most subjects with type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2Dm). There is growing evidence that hA toxicity towards islet beta-cells is responsible for their gradual loss of function in T2Dm. Preventing hA-mediated cytotoxicity has been proposed as a route to halt the progression of this disease, although this has not yet been demonstrated in vivo. The aim of our studies, in which we show that a small number of hA-treated cells exhibit intracellular accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), was to evaluate the role of oxidative stress in the mechanism of hA-mediated cytotoxicity. Here we report that catalase and n-propyl gallate, antioxidants that are thought to act mainly as free radical scavengers, afford RINm5F cells only limited protection against hA-mediated toxicity. By contrast, the thiol antioxidants, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), GSH and dithiothreitol, which not only react with ROS, but also modulate the cellular redox potential by increasing intracellular levels of GSH and/or by acting as thiol reducing agents, afford almost complete protection and inhibit the progression of hA-evoked apoptosis. We also show that hA treatment is not associated with changes in intracellular GSH levels and that inhibition of GSH biosynthesis has no effect on either hA-mediated cytotoxicity or NAC-mediated protection. These results indicate that, in addition to the induction of oxidative stress, hA appears to mediate cytotoxicity through signalling pathways that are sensitive to the actions of thiol antioxidants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / pharmacology*
  • Amyloid / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Amyloid / toxicity*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • Reducing Agents / metabolism
  • Reducing Agents / pharmacology*
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / metabolism
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / pharmacology*


  • Amyloid
  • Antioxidants
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Reducing Agents
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Glutathione
  • Acetylcysteine