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Adoptive transfer of diabetes to and from old normoglycaemic BB rats

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Approximately 4% of diabetes-prone BB/ Mol rats escape overt diabetes which occurs in other rats between 56 and 130 days of age. The ability of preactivated spleen cells from older non-diabetic and from acutely diabetic rats to adoptively transfer diabetes into young diabetes-prone rats was compared, and it was found that they transferred disease with similar incidence and with overlapping onset times in the recipients. Old non-diabetic rats were themselves susceptible to diabetes adoptively transferred from acutely diabetic or from old non-diabetic donors. Lymphocytic insulitis and pancreatic insulin content in unmanipulated old non-diabetic rats were both intermediate between those seen in acutely diabetic and in diabetes-resistant rats. In vivo treatment with polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid induced diabetes with faster onset in old non-diabetic rats than in young diabetes-prone rats. Adoptive transfer of fresh, whole spleen cells from old non-diabetic rats did not protect young BB rats against spontaneous diabetes, while cells from diabetes-resistant rats did. Spleens from old non-diabetic rats contained significantly lower percentages of T cells than spleens from acutely diabetic rats but not lower than spleens from age-matched diabetic rats, suggesting that this reduction was age-related. Finally, spleens from both old non-diabetic and from acutely diabetic rats were negative for the regulatory RT6+ T-cell subset. It is concluded that quiescent beta-cell autoimmunity seen in a fraction of BB/ Mol rats can be reactivated upon non-antigen-specific immune stimulation.







old non-diabetic


acutely diabetic


old diabetic


adoptive transfer


natural killer


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Correspondence to Dr. P. MacKay.

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MacKay, P. Adoptive transfer of diabetes to and from old normoglycaemic BB rats. Diabetologia 38, 145–152 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00400088

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Key words

  • BB rats
  • autoimmunity
  • adoptive transfer
  • T lymphocytes
  • poly I:C