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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jul 9;93(14):7283-8.

Spontaneous diabetes mellitus in transgenic mice expressing human islet amyloid polypeptide.

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  • 1Endocrine Research Unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


The islet in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) is characterized by loss of beta cells and large local deposits of amyloid derived from the 37-amino acid protein, islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP). We have hypothesized that IAPP amyloid forms intracellularly causing beta-cell destruction under conditions of high rates of expression. To test this we developed a homozygous transgenic mouse model with high rates of expression of human IAPP. Male transgenic mice spontaneously developed diabetes mellitus by 8 weeks of age, which was associated with selective beta-cell death and impaired insulin secretion. Small intra- and extracellular amorphous IAPP aggregates were present in islets of transgenic mice during the development of diabetes mellitus. However, IAPP derived amyloid deposits were found in only a minority of islets at approximately 20 weeks of age, notably after development of diabetes mellitus in male transgenic mice. Approximately 20% of female transgenic mice spontaneously developed diabetes mellitus at 30+ weeks of age, when beta-cell degeneration and both amorphous and amyloid deposits of IAPP were present. We conclude that overexpression of human IAPP causes beta-cell death, impaired insulin secretion, and diabetes mellitus. Large deposits of IAPP derived amyloid do not appear to be important in this cytotoxicity, but early, small amorphous intra- and extracellular aggregates of human IAPP were consistently present at the time of beta-cell death and therefore may be the most cytotoxic form of IAPP.

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