It is recently suggested that amyloid polymorphism, i.e., structural diversity of amyloid fibrils, has a deep relationship with pathology. However, its prompt recognition is almost halted due to insufficiency of analytical methods for detecting polymorphism of amyloid fibrils sensitively and quickly. Here, we propose that iodine staining, a historically known reaction that was firstly found by Virchow, can be used as a method for distinguishing amyloid polymorphs. When insulin fibrils were prepared and iodine-stained, they exhibited different colors depending on polymorphs. Each of the colors was inherited to daughter fibrils by seeding reactions. The colors were fundamentally represented as a sum of three absorption bands in visible region between 400 and 750 nm, and the bands showed different titration curves against iodine, suggesting that there are three specific iodine binding sites. The analysis of resonance Raman spectra and polarization microscope suggested that several polyiodide ions composed of I3− and/or I5− were formed on the grooves or the edges of β-sheets. It was concluded that the polyiodide species and conformations formed are sensitive to surface structure of amyloid fibrils, and the resultant differences in color will be useful for detecting polymorphism in a wide range of diagnostic samples.
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