Macrophages have been shown to be the major population of infiltrated immunocytes at the early stage of insulitis in diabetes-prone BB rats. This study was undertaken to investigate the role of macrophages in the development of insulitis in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice. Administration of cyclophosphamide to NOD mice resulted in a significant increase in the incidence of overt diabetes and severity of insulitis compared with that in untreated NOD mice. Intraperitoneal injections of silica completely prevented the development of diabetes and insulitis in both cyclophosphamide-treated and untreated animals. Because silica is selectively toxic to macrophages, the results suggest that macrophages play an important role in the initiation of insulitis in NOD mice.

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