Gradual loss of pancreatic beta-cell insulin, glucokinase and GLUT2 glucose transporter immunoreactivities during the time course of nutritionally induced type-2 diabetes in Psammomys obesus (sand rat)

Virchows Arch. 2002 Jan;440(1):63-9. doi: 10.1007/s004280100490.


The Psammomys obesus (sand rat) is a well-established model of nutritionally induced non-insulin-dependent type-2 diabetes. When fed a high-energy (HE) diet, the diabetes-prone animals develop hyperinsulinaemia and hyperglycaemia. Within 1 week, all animals become hyperinsulinaemic. However, a loss of immunostaining for insulin as well as for the GLUT2 glucose transporter in the plasma membrane and the glucokinase in the cytoplasm of the pancreatic beta cells became evident only when the animals subsequently developed hyperglycaemia. After 1 week of HE diet feeding, the pancreatic beta-cell volume was reduced by one-third in hyperglycaemic Psammomys. Insulin immunostaining as well as GLUT2 glucose transporter immunostaining in the plasma membrane and glucokinase immunostaining in the cytoplasm were reduced by more than 50%. After 3 weeks of HE diet feeding, all changes observed after 1 week were even more pronounced, with reductions in the range of 70-95%. The reduction of the total beta-cell volume of the pancreas due to beta-cell death and the diminution of insulin content of the remaining beta cells in the islets during the HE diet feeding was accompanied by a parallel fall of the pancreas insulin content. For all changes observed, there was a significant correlation with the increase of the blood glucose concentration (r>0.9) but not with the increase of the plasma insulin concentration (r>0.2). Thus, increasing glycaemia appears to be the factor responsible for the deterioration of the pancreatic beta-cell function and the resulting loss of the insulin secretory capacity in Psammomys. The final result of this development is an irreversible diabetic state due to the feeding of the HE diet.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gerbillinae
  • Glucokinase / analysis*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 2
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insulin / analysis*
  • Islets of Langerhans / chemistry*
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / analysis*
  • Rats


  • Glucose Transporter Type 2
  • Insulin
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • Glucokinase