Aims/hypothesis: Research on the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes relies heavily on good animal models. The aim of this work was to study the translational value of animal models of type 1 diabetes to the human situation.
Methods: We compared the four major animal models of spontaneous type 1 diabetes, namely the NOD mouse, BioBreeding (BB) rat, Komeda rat and LEW.1AR1-iddm rat, by examining the immunohistochemistry and in situ RT-PCR of immune cell infiltrate and cytokine pattern in pancreatic islets, and by comparing findings with human data.
Results: After type 1 diabetes manifestation CD8(+) T cells, CD68(+) macrophages and CD4(+) T cells were observed as the main immune cell types with declining frequency, in infiltrated islets of all diabetic pancreases. IL-1β and TNF-α were the main proinflammatory cytokines in the immune cell infiltrate in NOD mice, BB rats and LEW.1AR1-iddm rats, as well as in humans. The Komeda rat was the exception, with IFN-γ and TNF-α being the main cytokines. In addition, IL-17 and IL-6 and the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-4, IL-10 and IL-13 were found in some infiltrating immune cells. Apoptotic as well as proliferating beta cells were observed in infiltrated islets. In healthy pancreases no proinflammatory cytokine expression was observed.
Conclusions/interpretation: With the exception of the Komeda rat, the animal models mirror very well the situation in humans with type 1 diabetes. Thus animal models of type 1 diabetes can provide meaningful information on the disease processes in the pancreas of patients with type 1 diabetes.