Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Claudio Soto, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jaroslaw Aronowski, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Bean, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Gorenstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anne Sereno, Ph.D.


With the population of the world aging, the prominence of diseases such as Type II Diabetes (T2D) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are on the rise. In addition, patients with T2D have an increased risk of developing AD compared to age-matched individuals, and the number of AD patients with T2D is higher than among aged-matched non-AD patients. AD is a chronic and progressive dementia characterized by amyloid-beta (Aβ) plaques, neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), neuronal loss, brain inflammation, and cognitive impairment. T2D involves the dysfunctional use of pancreatic insulin by the body resulting in insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, pancreatic beta cell (β-cell) death, and other complications. T2D and AD are considered protein misfolding disorders (PMDs). PMDs are characterized by the presence of misfolded protein aggregates, such as in T2D pancreas (islet amyloid polypeptide - IAPP) and in AD brain (amyloid– Aβ) of affected individuals. The misfolding and accumulation of these proteins follows a seeding-nucleation model where misfolded soluble oligomers act as nuclei to propagate misfolding by recruiting other native proteins. Cross-seeding occurs when oligomers composed by one protein seed the aggregation of a different protein. Our hypothesis is that the pathological interactions between T2D and AD may in part occur through cross-seeding of protein misfolding. To test this hypothesis, we examined how each respective aggregate (Aβ or IAPP) affects the disparate disease pathology through in vitro and in vivo studies. Assaying Aβ aggregates influence on T2D pathology, IAPP+/+/APPSwe+/- double transgenic (DTg) mice exhibited exacerbated T2D-like pathology as seen in elevated hyperglycemia compared to controls; in addition, IAPP levels in the pancreas are highest compared to controls. Moreover, IAPP+/+/APPSwe+/- animals demonstrate abundant plaque formation and greater plaque density in cortical and hippocampal areas in comparison to controls. Indeed, IAPP+/+/APPSwe+/- exhibit a colocalization of both misfolded proteins in cerebral plaques suggesting IAPP may directly interact with Aβ and aggravate AD pathology. In conclusion, these studies suggest that cross-seeding between IAPP and Aβ may occur, and that these protein aggregates exacerbate and accelerate disease pathology, respectively. Further mechanistic studies are necessary to determine how these two proteins interact and aggravate both pancreatic and brain pathologies.


Type II Diabetes, Amylin, Alzheimer's disease, Amyloid-beta, Cross-seeding, Protein Misfolding



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