Islet amyloid deposition limits the viability of human islet grafts but not porcine islet grafts

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Mar 2;107(9):4305-10. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909024107. Epub 2010 Feb 16.


Islet transplantation is a promising treatment for diabetes but long-term success is limited by progressive graft loss. Aggregates of the beta cell peptide islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) promote beta cell apoptosis and rapid amyloid formation occurs in transplanted islets. Porcine islets are an attractive alternative islet source as they demonstrate long-term graft survival. We compared the capacity of transplanted human and porcine islets to form amyloid as an explanation for differences in graft survival. Human islets were transplanted into streptozotocin-diabetic immune-deficient mice. Amyloid deposition was detectable at 4 weeks posttransplantation and was associated with islet graft failure. More extensive amyloid deposition was observed after 8 weeks. By contrast, no amyloid was detected in transplanted neonatal or adult porcine islets that had maintained normoglycemia for up to 195 days. To determine whether differences in IAPP sequence between humans and pigs could explain differences in amyloid formation and transplant viability, we sequenced porcine IAPP. Porcine IAPP differs from the human sequence at 10 positions and includes substitutions predicted to reduce its amyloidogenicity. Synthetic porcine IAPP was considerably less amyloidogenic than human IAPP as determined by transmission electron microscopy, circular dichroism, and thioflavin T binding. Viability assays indicated that porcine IAPP is significantly less toxic to INS-1 beta cells than human IAPP. Our findings demonstrate that species differences in IAPP sequence can explain the lack of amyloid formation and improved survival of transplanted porcine islets. These data highlight the potential of porcine islet transplantation as a therapeutic approach for human diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amyloid / chemistry
  • Amyloid / metabolism*
  • Amyloid / physiology
  • Animals
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Graft Rejection
  • Humans
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Species Specificity
  • Swine


  • Amyloid
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide