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β‐Carboline Alkaloids Resist the Aggregation and Cytotoxicity of Human Islet Amyloid Polypeptide

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The β-carboline alkaloids harmine and harmol effectively impede the fibril formation and cytotoxicity of human islet amyloid polypeptide. Both of them change the morphology of peptide aggregates and upregulate the cell viability by reducing peptide oligomerization.


β-Carboline alkaloids have a variety of pharmacological activities, such as antitumor, antibiosis and antidiabetes. Harmine and harmol are two structurally similar β-carbolines that occur in many medicinal plants. In this work, we chose harmine and harmol to impede the amyloid fibril formation of human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), by a series of physicochemical and biochemical methods. The results indicate that harmine and harmol effectively prevent peptide fibril formation and alleviate toxic oligomer species. In addition, both small molecules exhibit strong binding affinities with hIAPP mainly through hydrophobic and hydrogen bonding interactions, thus reducing the cytotoxicity induced by hIAPP. Their distinct binding pattern with hIAPP is closely linked to the molecular configuration of the two small molecules, affecting their ability to impede peptide aggregation. The study is of great significance for the application and development of β-carboline alkaloids against T2DM.

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