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The nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse, a model of human type I diabetes, develops insulitis beginning at 4-6 wk of age. By 30 wk of age, 72% of females and 39% of males develop spontaneous diabetes, apparently because of an overwhelming autoimmune response to the insulin-producing beta-cells within the islets. To identify the immune mechanism responsible for destruction of beta-cells in the NOD mouse, we developed an adoptive transfer protocol that induces diabetes in NOD mice at an age when spontaneous diabetes is rarely observed. Splenocytes from overtly diabetic NOD mice were unable to transfer diabetes to very young (less than or equal to 6 wk) irradiated NOD mice but effectively transferred diabetes to irradiated NOD mice greater than 6 wk of age. In such transfers, overt diabetes was induced within 12-22 days in greater than 95% (79/82) of the recipients. Thus, transfer of splenocytes to young mice induces them to become diabetic at a higher frequency and at a younger age than their untreated littermates. Equally successful transfers with as few as 5 X 10(6) spleen cells have been performed in male and female NOD mice, even though males display a lower spontaneous incidence of diabetes than females. Splenocytes obtained from diabetic mice maintained on insulin for up to 2 mo also transferred diabetes. Because NOD mice display increasing levels of insulitis with age, spleen cells obtained from nondiabetic NOD mice of different ages were tested for their ability to transfer diabetes.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





855 - 860


Islets of Langerhans, Spleen, Animals, Mice, Inbred Strains, Mice, Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental, Autoimmune Diseases, Age Factors, Female, Male