Inflammatory status of the pancreas in NOD mice that do not develop overt diabetes

Vol. 62 No. 1, 2021


Ana-Maria Catrina, Mirel Adrian Popa, Ana-Maria Vacaru, Ioana Madalina Fenyo

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which immune cells target the pancreatic islets and destroy the beta-cells, resulting in hyperglycemia and decreased plasmatic insulin levels. The non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse is the most used animal model for studying diabetes because it spontaneously develops T1D and shares similarities with the human disease. A hallmark feature of this model is the appearance of insulitis, defined as an inflammatory cell infiltration of the pancreatic islets. However, a small percentage of NOD mice do not develop overt diabetes even after 28-35 weeks of age. Thus, we questioned the status of the pancreatic islets in these non-diabetic NOD mice, with particular focus on islet inflammation and plasmatic insulin levels, in comparison to pre-diabetic (11 weeks old) and new-onset diabetic mice. Diabetes progression was evaluated by assessing blood glucose and pancreas histology. The inflammatory score was determined on Hematoxylin-Eosin (HE)-stained sections of pancreas. Plasma insulin was detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The results showed that inflammation increased in an age-dependent manner in all mice, irrespective of their diabetic status. Mostly affected within the analyzed groups were the 28 weeks old non-diabetic NOD mice, in which insulin production was reduced and inversely correlated with the inflammatory status. We conclude that in NOD mice, pancreatic inflammation progresses independently of diabetes onset and clinical signs of disease. Most likely, the NOD females that do not develop overt diabetes preserve a small mass of functional beta-cells, which is able to provide the physiological insulin levels and avoid diabetes onset.

Corresponding author: Ioana Madalina Fenyo, PhD; e-mail:

DOI: 10.47162/RJME.62.1.10 Download PDF
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