Animal Models in Diabetes Research

Volume 933 of the series Methods in Molecular Biology pp 31-44


The BB Rat as a Model of Human Type 1 Diabetes

  • Rita BortellAffiliated withProgram in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School Email author 
  • , Chaoxing YangAffiliated withProgram in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School

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The BB rat is an important rodent model of human type 1 diabetes (T1D) and has been used to study mechanisms of diabetes pathogenesis as well as to investigate potential intervention therapies for clinical trials. The Diabetes-Prone BB (BBDP) rat spontaneously develops autoimmune T1D between 50 and 90 days of age. The Diabetes-Resistant BB (BBDR) rat has similar diabetes-susceptible genes as the BBDP, but does not become diabetic in viral antibody-free conditions. However, the BBDR rat can be induced to develop T1D in response to certain treatments such as regulatory T cell (Treg) depletion, toll-like receptor ligation, or virus infection. These diabetes-inducible rats develop hyperglycemia under well-controlled circumstances and within a short, predictable time frame (14–21 days), thus facilitating their utility for investigations of specific stages of diabetes development. Therefore, these rat strains are invaluable models for studying autoimmune diabetes and the role of environmental factors in its development, of particular importance due to the influx of studies associating virus infection and human T1D.

Key words

BB rat Type 1 diabetes Regulatory T cell Toll-like receptor Virus infection Major histocompatibility complex Lymphopenia Insulitis Kilham rat virus Enterovirus Innate immunity