Immunological studies in multiple low dose streptozotocin induced diabetes in mice
1. Multiple low doses of streptozotocin (MSZ) treatment successfully induced diabetes in male TO, MFI and HO lean mice. In contrast however, BALB/c mice failed to develop persistent hyperglycaemia. Single streptozotocin (SSZ) treatment also produced diabetes in TO mice. SSZ treatment however, produced severe weight loss and atrophy of the lymphoid organs. MSZ treatment on the other hand, was not cytotoxic towards lymphoid organs and, whilst there was no loss of body weight, growth rates were reduced in MSZ treated mice. 2. Following sheep red blood cell (SRBC) immunisation of MSZ-treated mice, haemagglutination titres, and numbers of antigen reactive cells and plaque forming cells were all significantly lower than control values. 3. In vitro proliferation of spleen cells in response to phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) and conconavalin A (ConA) was found to be significantly depressed in MSZ treated mice. However, T-lymphocyte responses were intact when the mice were not overtly hyperglycaemic. In contrast, however, T cell independent responses to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) were generally intact throughout the study period. 4. Cell mediated immunity, as assessed by measurements of delayed (Type IV) hypersensitivity, was also depressed in MSZ treated mice. This suppression could be reversed by insulin therapy. 5. Both natural killer cell activity and antibody dependent cell mediated cytotoxicity were found to be significantly increased in MSZ treated mice. 6. Histological examination of the pancreas showed the presence of insulitis, in MSZ treated mice, and cytotoxic effector cells against obese mice islet cells (as assessed by 51Cr release) and HIT-T15 cells (as assessed by insulin secretion) were found to be significantly increased. Furthermore, these effector cells were also found to show increased proliferation in the presence of homogenates prepared from HIT-T15 cells. Examination of the Sera from MSZ treated mice showed that islet cell surface antibodies were present.