Bovine serum albumin and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus; is cow's milk still a possible toxicological causative agent of diabetes?

Food Chem Toxicol. 2004 May;42(5):707-14. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2004.01.002.


The implication of bovine serum albumin (BSA) in cow's milk as a causative agent for the onset of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is a major topic of scientific debate not withstanding the medical and economic implications. A critical survey of the pertinent literature has revealed a number of controversies. For example, an important toxicological aspect of BSA is the presence of ABBOS, a peptide segment of the protein. However, the nature and effect of ABBOS on the death of insulin producing cells (beta-cells of the pancreas) is unclear and hence inconclusive. In addition, studies in diabetes-prone mice and rats appear to show that cow's milk does not alter the frequency of diabetes in these organisms. It is suggested that BSA may not be the cause of diabetes. Instead, IDDM is most likely the result of oxidative stress, due to high local levels of nitric oxide (NO*) and oxygen radicals (O2*-), on the beta-cells of the pancreas, which eventually leads to their destruction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / etiology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Cattle
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Infant
  • Infant Food / adverse effects
  • Islets of Langerhans / immunology
  • Milk / adverse effects*
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk / immunology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Fragments / adverse effects*
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / adverse effects*
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / chemistry
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / immunology


  • Peptide Fragments
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine