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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1977 Jun;74(6):2485-9.

Studies of streptozotocin-induced insulitis and diabetes.


Multiple small injections of streptozotocin produce a delayed, progressive increase in plasma glucose in mice within 5-6 days after the injections, in association with pronounced insulitis and induction of type C viruses within beta cells. Multiple subdiabetogenic doses of streptozotocin in rats and multiple injections of another beta cell toxin, alloxan, in mice did not induce insulitis although hyperglycemia followed the injection of larger quantities of both agents. In mice, the prior injection of 3-O-methyl-D-glucose (3-OMG) or nicotinamide attenuated the diabetic syndrome produced by streptozotocin; however, 3-OMG was more protective. Rabbit antimouse lymphocyte serum, alone, provided partial protection but, when given together with either 3-OMG or nicotinamide, effectively prevented the streptozotocin-induced diabetic syndrome. Cessation of these preventive treatments was followed by the appearance of insulitis and diabetes. These findings suggest that multiple injections of streptozotocin induce, in susceptible hosts, the triad of direct beta cell cytotoxicity, virus induction within beta cells, and cell-mediated autoimmune reaction. These factors, acting separately or in concert, appear to induce a destructive insulitis and severe diabetes. The relative importance of each component and the factors governing host susceptibility remain to be clarified.

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