Pancreatic amyloid deposits of amylin are a hallmark of Type II diabetes and considerable evidence indicates that amylin oligomers are cytotoxic to beta-cells. Many efforts are presently spent to find out naturally occurring molecules, or to design synthetic ones, able to hinder amylin aggregation or to protect cells against aggregate cytotoxicity. In this context, a protective effect of some polyphenols against amyloid cytotoxicity was reported. Actually dietary polyphenols are endowed with multiple health benefits, and extra virgin olive oil is attracting increasing interest as a source of these substances. Here, we investigated the effects on amylin aggregation and cytotoxicity of the secoiridoid oleuropein aglycon, the main phenolic component of extra virgin olive oil. We found that oleuropein, when present during the aggregation of amylin, consistently prevented its cytotoxicity to RIN-5F pancreatic beta-cells, as determined by the 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide test and caspase-3 activity assay. A lack of interaction with the cell membrane of amylin aggregates grown in the presence of oleuropein was shown by fluorescence microscopy and synthetic lipid vesicle permeabilization. Moreover, our ThT assay, circular dichroism analysis and electron microscopy images suggested that oleuropein interferes with amylin aggregation, resulting in a different path skipping the formation of toxic pre-fibrillar aggregates. These results provide a molecular basis for some of the benefits potentially coming from extra virgin olive oil consumption and pave the way to further studies on the possible pharmacological use of oleuropein to prevent or to slow down the progression of type II diabetes.
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