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J Diabetes Res. 2013;2013:965832. doi: 10.1155/2013/965832. Epub 2013 May 13.

Variations in rodent models of type 1 diabetes: islet morphology.

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Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is characterized by hyperglycemia due to lost or damaged islet insulin-producing β -cells. Rodent models of T1D result in hyperglycemia, but with different forms of islet deterioration. This study focused on 1 toxin-induced and 2 autoimmune rodent models of T1D: BioBreeding Diabetes Resistant rats, nonobese diabetic mice, and Dark Agouti rats treated with streptozotocin. Immunochemistry was used to evaluate the insulin levels in the β -cells, cell composition, and insulitis. T1D caused complete or significant loss of β -cells in all animal models, while increasing numbers of α -cells. Lymphocytic infiltration was noted in and around islets early in the progression of autoimmune diabetes. The loss of lymphocytic infiltration coincided with the absence of β -cells. In all models, the remaining α - and δ -cells regrouped by relocating to the islet center. The resulting islets were smaller in size and irregularly shaped. Insulin injections subsequent to induction of toxin-induced diabetes significantly preserved β -cells and islet morphology. Diabetes in animal models is anatomically heterogeneous and involves important changes in numbers and location of the remaining α - and δ -cells. Comparisons with human pancreatic sections from healthy and diabetic donors showed similar morphological changes to the diabetic BBDR rat model.

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