In a study of prevention of spontaneous diabetes in BB rats by therapeutic doses of cyclosporine (10 mg/kg/ day), the male control non-diabetes-prone rats showed glucose intolerance after a 0.25 g/kg glucose load by gavage, at 90 and 130 days of treatment. Non-BB male Wistar rats treated similarly showed glucose intolerance at 1 wk of treatment, with progressive worsening for 5 wk, then sustained up to 12 wk of treatment. Fasting euglycemia was maintained, but both pre- and postchallenge plasma insulin levels were significantly lower with cyclosporine at several time points. Total pancreatic insulin was decreased to one-third that of control after 5 wk. After withdrawal of cyclosporine, glucose tolerance returned to normal in 2 wk. Sprague-Dawley rats responded similarly and in both strains, an increase in the cyclosporine dose to 15 mg/kg/day augmented the glucose intolerance. These results demonstrate that therapeutic doses of this agent induce reversible glucose intolerance due, in part, to inhibition of insulin secretion and also possibly inhibition of synthesis, though a peripheral effect is not excluded. This hyperglycemic effect of cyclosporine has implications for its potential use in type I diabetes mellitus, transplantation, and other autoimmune disease.

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