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J Mol Histol. 2005 May;36(4):289-300.

Histopathological changes in insulin, glucagon and somatostatin cells in the islets of NOD mice during cyclophosphamide-accelerated diabetes: a combined immunohistochemical and histochemical study.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.


The cyclophosphamide model of accelerated diabetes in the NOD mouse is a useful model of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). Knowledge on the progressive destruction of beta cells and the fate of other islet endocrine cell-types in this model is sparse. We employed immunohistochemistry and histochemistry, to study temporal changes in islet cell populations, insulitis and glucose transporter-2 expression during cyclophosphamide administration. Cyclophosphamide was administered to day 95 female NOD mice and the pancreas studied at days 0 ( = day 95), 4, 7, 11 and 14 after treatment and in age-matched control mice. At day 0, a majority of the endocrine cells were insulin-positive. Glucagon and somatostatin cells were mostly in the islet periphery and also internally. In the cyclophosphamide group, insulitis was moderate at day 0, declined at day 4 but increased progressively from day 7. The extent of insulitis in treated mice which were diabetes-free at day 14 was comparable to age-matched control mice. From day 11, the marked increase in insulitis correlated with a reciprocal decline in the extent of insulin immunostained islet area. At day 14, the mean insulin area per islet was markedly less in diabetic mice than in age-matched non-diabetic treated and controls. At diabetes, some islets showed co-expression of glucagon and insulin. Our studies suggest that the mean number of glucagon or somatostatin cells per islet does not vary during the study. Glucose transporter-2 immunolabelling was restricted to beta cells but declined in those adjacent to immune cells. We conclude that in the cyclophosphamide model, there is specific and augmented destruction of beta cells immediately prior to diabetes onset. We speculate that the selective loss of glucose transporter-2 shown in this study suggests the existence of a deleterious gradient close to the immune cell and beta cell surface boundary.

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