Development and characterization of a novel rat model of type 2 diabetes mellitus: The UC Davis type 2 diabetes mellitus UCD-T2DM rat

Bethany P. Cummings, Erin K. Digitale, Kimber Stanhope, James L. Graham, Denis G. Baskin, Benjamin J. Reed, Ian R. Sweet, Steven C. Griffen, Peter J Havel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


The prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is increasing, creating a need for T2DM animal models for the study of disease pathogenesis, prevention, and treatment. The purpose of this project was to develop a rat model of T2DM that more closely models the pathophysiology of T2DM in humans. The model was created by crossing obese Sprague-Dawley rats with insulin resistance resulting from polygenic adult-onset obesity with Zucker diabetic fatty-lean rats that have a defect in pancreatic β-cell function but normal leptin signaling. We have characterized the model with respect to diabetes incidence; age of onset; longitudinal measurements of glucose, insulin, and lipids; and glucose tolerance. Longitudinal fasting glucose and insulin data demonstrated progressive hyperglycemia (with fasting and fed glucose concentrations >250 and >450 mg/dl, respectively) after onset along with hyperinsulinemia resulting from insulin resistance at onset followed by a progressive decline in circulating insulin concentrations, indicative of β-cell decompensation. The incidence of diabetes in male and female rats was 92 and 43%, respectively, with an average age of onset of 6 mo in males and 9.5 mo in females. Results from intravenous glucose tolerance tests, pancreas immunohistochemistry, and islet insulin content further support a role for β-cell dysfunction in the pathophysiology of T2DM in this model. Diabetic animals also exhibit glycosuria, polyuria, and hyperphagia. Thus diabetes in the UC Davis-T2DM rat is more similar to clinical T2DM in humans than in other existing rat models and provides a useful model for future studies of the pathophysiology, treatment, and prevention of T2DM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • β-cell
  • Diabetic rodent model
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Insulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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