Protein aggregation is associated with a large number of human protein-misfolding diseases, yet FDA-approved drugs are currently not available. Amylin amyloid and plaque depositions in the pancreas are hallmark features of type 2 diabetes. Moreover, these amyloid deposits are implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic complications such as neurodegeneration. We recently discovered that catechols and redox-related quinones/anthraquinones represent a broad class of protein aggregation inhibitors. Further screening of a targeted library of natural compounds in complementary medicine that were enriched with catechol-containing compounds identified rosmarinic acid (RA) as a potent inhibitor of amylin aggregation (estimated inhibitory concentration IC50 = 200-300 nM). Structure-function relationship analysis of RA showed the additive effects of the two catechol-containing components of the RA molecule. We further showed that RA does not reverse fibrillation back to monomeric amylin but rather lead to nontoxic, remodeled protein aggregates. RA has significant ex vivo efficacy in reducing human amylin oligomer levels in HIP rat sera as well as in sera from diabetic patients. In vivo efficacy studies of RA treatment with the diabetic HIP rat model demonstrated significant reduction in amyloid islet deposition and strong mitigation of diabetic pathology. Our work provides new in vitro molecular mechanisms and in vivo efficacy insights for a model nutraceutical agent against type 2 diabetes and other aging-related protein-misfolding diseases.
© 2021 American Chemical Society.