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ILAR J. 2004;45(3):278-91.

Rat models of type 1 diabetes: genetics, environment, and autoimmunity.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts, Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.


For many years, the vast amount of data gathered from analysis of nonobese diabetic (NOD) and congenic NOD mice has eclipsed interest in the rat for the study of type 1 diabetes. The study of rat models has continued, however, and recently there has been a reanimation of interest for several reasons. First, genetic analysis of the rat has accelerated. Ian4L1, cblb, and Iddm4 are now known to play major roles in rat autoimmunity. Second, rats are amenable to study the interactions of genetics and environment that may be critical for disease expression in humans. Environmental perturbants that predictably enhance the expression of rat autoimmune diabetes include viral infection, toll-like receptor ligation, and depletion of regulatory T cell populations. Finally, data generated in the rat have correctly predicted the outcome of several human diabetes prevention trials, notably the failure of nicotinamide and low dose parenteral and oral insulin therapies.

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