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Recent observations have shown that the presumed target antigen of cytoplasmic islet cell antibodies (ICA) has properties of a monosialo-ganglioside migrating between GM2 and GM1 standards (GM2-1) and that ICA binding is higher in nonobese diabetic (NOD) than in C57BL/10SnJ mouse pancreatic frozen sections. This study aimed to characterize the ganglioside expression in NOD mouse islets in comparison with the control C57BL/10SnJ strain, taking into account possible sex differences, variations with age, and changes after autoimmune beta-cell destruction. Thus, acidic glycolipid composition was analyzed 1) in isolated islets from 11-week-old female and male NOD mice and age-matched female and male C57BL/10SnJ mice, and 2) in whole pancreas of both NOD and control mouse strains at different ages (4, 8, and 18 weeks) and of female NOD mice before and after diabetes onset. The acidic glycolipid GM2-1 is expressed in isolated female NOD islets, male NOD islets, and C57BL/10SnJ mouse islets, but quantitative analysis showed an increased amount of GM2-1 in NOD vs. C57BL/10 islets. GM3 is a ganglioside fraction expressed in female and male NOD mice and not in the C57BL/10 strain, whereas GD3 characterizes the C57BL/10 strain islets. GM2-1 is the sole ganglioside fraction in the whole pancreas to clearly decrease with age in the NOD mouse, and diabetes onset in this strain is associated with a significant decrease in the expression of this component as well as of GM3, whereas other pancreatic ganglioside (GD3, GD1a, and GT1b) levels did not significantly decrease; no age-related ganglioside change was observed in the C57BL/10SnJ mouse. Interestingly, the observed increased ICA binding in NOD islets is paralleled by the increased expression of GM2-1 islet ganglioside, and beta-cell destruction in NOD mice is associated with a significant decrease in the amount of this ganglioside in the pancreas.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





37 - 42


Department of Endocrinology, University of Rome, La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.


Pancreas, Islets of Langerhans, Animals, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred NOD, Mice, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1, Gangliosides, Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid, Chromatography, Thin Layer, Age Factors, Sex Factors, Autoimmunity, Female, Male