Animal models of diabetes mellitus

Diabet Med. 2005 Apr;22(4):359-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2005.01499.x.


Animal models have been used extensively in diabetes research. Early studies used pancreatectomised dogs to confirm the central role of the pancreas in glucose homeostasis, culminating in the discovery and purification of insulin. Today, animal experimentation is contentious and subject to legal and ethical restrictions that vary throughout the world. Most experiments are carried out on rodents, although some studies are still performed on larger animals. Several toxins, including streptozotocin and alloxan, induce hyperglycaemia in rats and mice. Selective inbreeding has produced several strains of animal that are considered reasonable models of Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and related phenotypes such as obesity and insulin resistance. Apart from their use in studying the pathogenesis of the disease and its complications, all new treatments for diabetes, including islet cell transplantation and preventative strategies, are initially investigated in animals. In recent years, molecular biological techniques have produced a large number of new animal models for the study of diabetes, including knock-in, generalized knock-out and tissue-specific knockout mice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Ethics, Research
  • Female
  • Gene Targeting / methods
  • Mice
  • Obesity / complications
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / etiology
  • Rats