Swedish scientists develop new diabetes model for mice

by Mark Benson on May 5, 2013

Swedish scientists develop new diabetes model for mice

Swedish scientists develop new diabetes model for mice

For many years now scientists have used mice as a means of testing and studying the development of diabetes in the hope that they could mimic the development in humans. In many cases mice have been fed certain types of foods in order to bring on the development of type II diabetes in particular at a speed which is sometimes unnatural to humans. Therefore, a team of scientists from the Lund University in Sweden developed a new model which saw an array of mice fed high-fat diets from the age of eight months through to 2 years of age.

The reason they chose the two-year age target was because this is effectively the end of the natural life of a mouse allowing scientists to study the potential onset of diabetes from a relatively early age.

What did the research show?

Researchers found that the vast majority of the mice involved in this new model became overweight, develop high blood sugar levels as well as a decrease in the release of insulin. This is a scenario which is often mimicked in older adults when their lifestyle becomes less active although perhaps more stressful.

This scenario of being overweight, experiencing high blood sugars and a decrease in insulin release went hand-in-hand with an inflammation of islets in the pancreas (which creates insulin) therefore encouraging the development of type II diabetes. Inflammation of these islets has been seen as a leading factor in the development of type II diabetes for some time now although this particular study allowed researchers to look at this in more detail.

Quote from DiabetesForum.com : “Pancreatic beta cells store and release insulin, the hormone responsible for stimulating cells to convert glucose to energy. The number of beta cells in the pancreas increases in response to greater demand for insulin or injury, but it is not clear if the new beta cells are the result of cell division or the differentiation of a precursor cell, a process known as neogenesis. Knowledge of how beta cells are created and maintained is critical to understanding diseases in which these cells are lost, such as diabetes.”

Combating the development of type II diabetes

One interesting factor which emerged from this research is that when mice with high blood glucose levels and obesity were treated with one of the new DPP-4 inhibitors the inflammation of the islets was avoided and traditional insulin production was left intact. The fact that the mice in question still suffered from obesity and high blood glucose levels but were in some ways protected from developing full-blown diabetes by the inhibitors has certainly given drug companies food for thought.

The researchers will need to carry out similar tests on humans but there seems to be some hope that the introduction of various inhibitors can in some ways slow down the development of type II diabetes and could possibly avoid it altogether for some people.

Looking to the future

There are many drug companies, scientific universities and researchers looking for potential treatments for both type I diabetes and type II diabetes. Many of them are coming at the situation from very different angles although this Swedish research programme, which saw a number of mice used to mimic the human development of diabetes, does seem to have some merit. Researchers were able to monitor the inflammation of islets in the pancreas and then subsequently treat this with DPP-4 inhibitors.

Like so many potentially groundbreaking technologies this is still at a very early stage and until these findings can be tested on humans we are still some way from a potential miracle treatment.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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