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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Mar;296(3):R786-93. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.90694.2008. Epub 2008 Dec 10.

Differential expression of GLUT2 in pancreatic islets and kidneys of New and Old World nonhuman primates.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, New England Primate Research Center, Southborough, MA 01772-9102, USA.


Diabetes is a growing public health concern, and animal models of this disease are necessary for a full understanding of disease pathogenesis, progression, clinical sequelae, and treatment options. In particular, nonhuman primate models of diabetes are important because of their close genetic relationship to humans. Although numerous Old World primate models have been described, few studies have examined the possibility of using New World monkeys as an animal model for this disease. Streptozotocin (STZ) is a common diabetogenic drug that selectively destroys beta cells after uptake via the GLUT2 glucose transporter. Induction of diabetes using STZ was attempted in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). These animals showed increases in blood glucose consistent with diabetes only at STZ doses markedly greater than those used in other primate species. Additionally, all animals showed pathological evidence of acute renal and liver toxicity secondary to the treatment. In a subsequent comparative study of various nonhuman primates, GLUT2 immunostaining in pancreatic islets was used as a marker for sensitivity to STZ. Immunostaining of islets from a variety of nonhuman primate species indicated a reduced expression of pancreatic GLUT2 in New compared with Old World monkeys; this finding explains their resistance to diabetic induction with STZ. Furthermore, there were age-dependent differences in GLUT2 expression, with aged and infant macaques showing reduced expression. We conclude that New World monkeys are an inappropriate model for diabetes induction with STZ and that, with all primate species, it is important to consider the animals' age before diabetic induction with STZ is attempted.

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