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Diabetes mellitus in Macaca mulatta monkeys is characterised by islet amyloidosis and reduction in beta-cell population


Diabetes mellitus in Macaca mulatta rhesus monkeys is preceded by phases of obesity and hyperinsulinaemia and is similar to Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus in man. To relate the progression of the disease to quantitative changes in islet morphology, post-mortem pancreatic tissue from 26 monkeys was examined. Four groups of animals were studied: group I — young, lean and normal (n=3); group II — older (>10 years), lean and obese, normoglycaemic (n=9); group III — normoglycaemic and hyperinsulinaemic (n=6); group IV — diabetic (n=8). Areas of islet amyloid, beta cells and islets were measured on stained histological sections. Islet size was larger in animals from groups III (p<0.01) and IV (p<0.0001) compared to groups I and II. The mean beta-cell area per islet in Μm2 was increased in group III (p<0.05) and reduced in group IV (p<0.001) compared to groups I and II. Mean beta-cell area per islet correlated with fasting plasma insulin (r=0.76, p<0.001) suggesting that hyper- and hypoinsulinaemia are related to the beta-cell population. Amyloid was absent in group I but small deposits were present in three of nine (group II) and in four of six (group III) animals, occupying between 0.03–45% of the islet space. Amyloid was present in eight of eight diabetic animals (group IV) occupying between 37–81% of the islet area. Every islet was affected in seven of eight diabetic monkeys. There was no correlation of degree of amyloidosis with age, body weight, body fat proportion or fasting insulin. Islet amyloid appears to precede the development of overt diabetes in Macaca mulatta and is likely to be a factor in the destruction of islet cells and onset of hyperglycaemia.


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de Koning, E.J.P., Bodkin, N.L., Hansen, B.C. et al. Diabetes mellitus in Macaca mulatta monkeys is characterised by islet amyloidosis and reduction in beta-cell population. Diabetologia 36, 378–384 (1993).

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Key words

  • Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus
  • Macaca mulatta
  • islet of Langerhans — pathology
  • amyloid
  • islet amyloid polypeptide
  • beta cells
  • obesity