In type 2 diabetes (T2D), aggregation of human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) occurs within the islet extracellular matrix (ECM) and is toxic to β cells. We recently showed that hIAPP aggregation also induces a pro-inflammatory response in islet endothelial cells (ECs). In most tissues, this inflammatory response in ECs is mediated by upregulating production of ECM components, such as hyaluronan (HA). Indeed, we find that HA accumulates in the islet ECM of hIAPP transgenic mice, where it was colocalized with amyloid deposits, while no HA accumulation occurred in non-transgenic littermate controls (which do not develop islet amyloid). Therefore, we hypothesized that hIAPP aggregation results in HA production from islet ECs, and that this HA production exacerbates hIAPP deposition/toxicity. To test this hypothesis, we utilized immortalized murine islet ECs (MS-1 cells), which under normal conditions express low levels of HA synthase (Has isoforms 2 and 3). Treatment of these cells for 48 h with hIAPP (20 µM) increased Has2 and Has3 mRNA levels (23±4 and 8±1 fold over vehicle; n=4, p<0.05 for both), which was abrogated upon co-incubation with Congo red, an inhibitor of hIAPP aggregation (1.4±0.3 and 1.4±0.2 for Has2 and Has3, respectively; n=4). Next, we used a thioflavin T assay, wherein fluorescence is proportional to fibril formation from amyloidogenic peptides, to determine the kinetics of hIAPP aggregation ± HA. We found co-incubation of HA with synthetic hIAPP peptide resulted in a marked acceleration (log time of 1 vs. 40 hours) and increase in maximal (greater than 2-fold) hIAPP accretion. In sum, exposure of islet ECs to aggregated hIAPP increases HA synthesis by these cells, which in turn further exacerbates aggregation of hIAPP to form amyloid. Thus, interventions targeting endothelial cell inflammation and/or HA production may be useful in blocking amyloid formation and its toxic effects in T2D.


J.J. Castillo: None. M.F. Hogan: None. A. Aplin: None. N. Esser: None. A.T. Templin: None. R.L. Hull: None.


National Institutes of Health (T32HL007028)

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at