Caruso G*, Fresta CG, Lazzarino G, Distefano DA, Parlascino P, Lunte SM, Lazzarino G*, Caraci F (2018) Int. J. Mol. Sci. 19: pii: E3659. [*corresponding authors]

Pubmed: doi: 10.3390/ijms19113659


Human amylin is a 37-residue peptide hormone (hA1-37) secreted by β-cells of the pancreas and, along with insulin, is directly associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Amyloid deposits within the islets of the pancreas represent a hallmark of T2DM. Additionally, amylin aggregates have been found in blood vessels and/or brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, alone or co-deposited with β-amyloid. The purpose of this study was to investigate the neuroprotective potential of human amylin in the context of endothelial-neuronal “cross-talk”. We initially performed dose-response experiments to examine cellular toxicity (quantified by the [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide] MTT assay) of different hA17⁻29 concentrations in endothelial cells (RBE4). In the culture medium of these cells, we also measured heat shock protein B5 (HspB5) levels by ELISA, finding that even a sub-toxic concentration of hA17⁻29 (3 µM) produced an increase of HspB5. Using a cell medium of untreated and RBE4 challenged for 48 h with a sub-toxic concentration of hA17⁻29, we determined the potential beneficial effect of their addition to the medium of neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells. These cells were subsequently incubated for 48 h with a toxic concentration of hA17⁻29 (20 µM). We found a complete inhibition of hA17⁻29 toxicity, potentially related to the presence in the conditioned medium not only of HspB5, but also of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Pre-treating SH-SY5Y cells with the anti-Flk1 antibody, blocking the VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2), significantly decreased the protective effects of the conditioned RBE4 medium. These data, obtained by indirectly measuring VEGF activity, were strongly corroborated by the direct measurement of VEGF levels in conditioned RBE4 media as detected by ELISA. Altogether, these findings highlighted a novel role of sub-toxic concentrations of human amylin in promoting the secretion of proteic factors by endothelial cells (HspB5 and VEGF) that support the survival and proliferation of neuron-like cells.