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Am J Transplant. 2003 Mar;3(3):267-72.

The effect of low versus high dose of streptozotocin in cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascilularis).

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Islet Transplantation Laboratory, Department of Surgery, Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Streptozotocin (STZ) is often used to induce diabetes in animal models. However, morbidity associated with STZ and its ability to induce diabetes vary with different dosages among different animal species, including nonhuman primates. To find an optimal dose of STZ that would cause diabetes with minimal toxicity, we compared low and high doses of STZ. Male cynomolgus monkeys (3-6 years old) were given a single dose of 100 mg/kg (high dose, 4 animals) or 55 mg/kg (low dose, 20 animals) of STZ. Blood glucose levels, intravenous glucose tolerance test (IVGTT), pancreatic biopsies, liver function tests (LFTs), liver biopsies, kidney function tests, and kidney biopsies were performed periodically. Animals from both groups developed diabetes within 24 h after administration of STZ. Serum C-peptide levels in both groups decreased from 2 to 8 ng/mL before STZ to between 0.01 and 0.6 ng/mL after STZ. Animals with the high dose of STZ developed transient vomiting within minutes after injection. During the first week after STZ injection, high-dose animals developed elevated LFTs, BUN and creatinine. In contrast, low-dose animals had normal liver and kidney function tests. Histological analysis showed that animals given the high dose of STZ developed marked steatosis of the liver and tubular injury in the kidneys, whereas animals given the low dose of STZ had normal-looking liver and kidney histology. The pancreatic islets in both groups were indistinguishable by immunoperoxidase staining for insulin, and showed either no insulin-positive cells or rare insulin-positive cells. Glucagon staining was normal. Over time, low-dose diabetic monkeys remained persistently hyperglycemic with negligible C-peptide stimulation by intravenous glucose. We conclude that low-dose STZ at 55 mg/mL successfully induces diabetes in cynomolgus monkeys with minimal liver and kidney toxicity.

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