Journal of Endocrinology

 Amyloid precursor protein in pancreatic islets

The amyloid precursor protein (APP) has been extensively investigated for its role in the production of amyloid beta (Aβ), a plaque-forming peptide in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Epidemiological evidence suggests type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for AD. The pancreas is an essential regulator of blood glucose levels through the secretion of the hormones insulin and glucagon. Pancreatic dysfunction is a well-characterized consequence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In this study, we have examined the expression and processing of pancreatic APP to test the hypothesis that APP may play a role in pancreatic function and the pathophysiology of diabetes. Our data demonstrate the presence of APP within the pancreas, including pancreatic islets in both mouse and human samples. Additionally, we report that the APP/PS1 mouse model of AD overexpresses APP within pancreatic islets, although this did not result in detectable levels of Aβ. We compared whole pancreas and islet culture lysates by Western blot from C57BL/6 (WT), APP–/– and APP/PS1 mice and observed APP-dependent differences in the total protein levels of GLUT4, IDE and BACE2. Immunohistochemistry for BACE2 detected high levels in pancreatic α cells. Additionally, both mouse and human islets processed APP to release sAPP into cell culture media. Moreover, sAPP stimulated insulin but not glucagon secretion from islet cultures. We conclude that APP and its metabolites are capable of influencing the basic physiology of the pancreas, possibly through the release of sAPP acting in an autocrine or paracrine manner.