Spontaneous diabetes mellitus has been documented in a colony of guinea pigs. The contagious nature of the disease has been verified, but the nature of the infectious agent is not known. Animals from the original colony or animals exposed to the colony with normal glucose tolerance tests (GTT) became diabetic, as evidenced by elevated one- and four-hour GTT values, and in most cases have significant glycosuria. The severity of pathologic changes in the pancreatic islets parallel, in general, the severity of the clinical symptoms (glycosuria and abnormal GTT). Those animals with severe glycosuria and elevated FBS as well as one- and four-hour GTT values had the most pronounced degranulation and most prominent cytoplasmic inclusions in islet B cells. The severity of scarring in the islets can be correlated with the duration of the overt diabetic state. The other clinical parameters of note were elevated serum triglycerides, normal serum but elevated aortic cholesterol, and absence of ketonemia or ketonuria. The reproductive capacity of diabetic females was compromised. While the clinical manifestations are mild or variable, the presence of significant islet pathology is reminiscent of human juvenile diabetes mellitus. These findings lend support to the concept that infectious and/or immune mechanisms could be operative in the etiology and pathogenesis of human diabetes mellitus.

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