The BB rat diabetic syndrome has been prevented by various immunosuppressive and reconstitution measures. We observed an effect of multiple blood samplings on diabetes incidence and examined its immunological correlates. Individual litters were divided into two groups; one was sampled and the other was sham sampled as the control group. Sixty-four diabetes-prone and 59 non-diabetes-prone rats were studied. The sampled rats had blood removed at 15 (28% of total blood volume), 30 (30%), 50 (21%), 75 (16%), and 120 days of age. The sham-sampled control rats had blood removed only at 120 days of age. The incidence of diabetes in the sampled group was markedly lower than that of their sham-sampled littermates (22 vs. 78%). This result was associated with a correction of their OX19+ (pan-T-lymphocytes) and W3/25+ (helper/inducer) T-lymphocyte-number defects. An increase in lymphocyte subsets was also seen in the non-diabetes-prone BB rats, significant for all but the OX19+ cells. Islet pathology and pancreatic insulin content were consistent with metabolic outcomes. The effect of blood withdrawal thus has implications for understanding the pathogenesis of both the diabetes syndrome and the lymphopenia of the BB rat. Furthermore, it suggests that a stimulation of lymphopoiesis by blood withdrawal (analogous to that of erythropoiesis) may be a hitherto unrecognized physiological response in normal animals.

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