Mouse Model Sheds New Light On How Diabetes Develops
May 4, 2013

Diabetes Development Followed In New Mouse Model

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A team of Swedish scientists has developed a new mouse model which could explain what exactly happens to the body when type 2 diabetes develops, as well as how drug treatment affects the physiology.

Writing in the journal Diabetologia, researchers from Lund University explain they fed normal mice food that was high in fat from the age of eight months through the age of two (which is, on average, the end of their natural lives).

The rodents became overweight, developed high blood sugar levels, and experienced a decrease in insulin release — all of which are expected to occur prior to the onset of the disease. They also were able to confirm fatty foods led to an inflammation in the hormone-producing cells of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas.

“The animal models for type 2 diabetes studies that have previously existed have not been optimal because they use young mice. Our idea was to create a model that resembles the situation in the development of type 2 diabetes in humans,” Bilal Omar, a researcher with the Lund University Diabetes Centre (LUDC), said in a statement.

“We generally get the disease in middle age when we start to put on weight and live a more sedentary, and more stressful, life. Our new middle-aged mouse model has enabled us to study long-term physiological effects of the development and treatment of type 2 diabetes in a completely new way,” he added.

Inflammation in this region of the insulin-producing organ has been previously observed in type 2 diabetes patients, but the researchers claim their newly developed mouse model is the first to truly confirm the phenomenon. Inflammation of the islets is an important risk factor for diabetes, they report.

“Throughout the period we were able to study the process that leads to the development of type 2 diabetes with a lifestyle like that of people predisposed to the condition,” Omar explained. “What was so interesting and exciting was that the mice that were treated with DPP-4 inhibitors, a class of drugs used for type 2 diabetes, did not develop inflammation and they maintained good insulin production. They were still obese, but had normal blood sugar, were otherwise healthy and lived longer.”

Omar said his team´s goal was to develop drugs that could “at least give the patient a better quality of life for several years.” His colleague, Bo Ahrén, added their findings showed the inflammation was “caused by a high-fat diet,” and even though it was “too early” to apply the results of the study to humans, it “makes it doubtful whether a high-fat diet over a long period should be recommended.”