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In Vivo. 2009 Mar-Apr;23(2):245-58.

The use of animal models in the study of diabetes mellitus.

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Department of Experimental Physiology, Medical School, University of Athens, 75 Mikras Asias Str. Goudi-Athens, 115 27, Greece.


Animal models have enormously contributed to the study of diabetes mellitus, a metabolic disease with abnormal glucose homeostasis, due to some defect in the secretion or the action of insulin. They give researchers the opportunity to control in vivo the genetic and environmental factors that may influence the development of the disease and establishment of its complications, and thus gain new information about its handling and treatment in humans. Most experiments are carried out on rodents, even though other species with human-like biological characteristics are also used. Animal models develop diabetes either spontaneously or by using chemical, surgical, genetic or other techniques, and depict many clinical features or related phenotypes of the disease. In this review, an overview of the most commonly used animal models of diabetes are provided, highlighting the advantages and limitations of each model, and discussing their usefulness and contribution in the field of diabetes research.

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