The inheritance of the tendency to develop diet-induced non-insulin-dependent (type II) diabetes was analyzed in crosses between diabetes-prone C57BL/6J (BL/6) mice and diabetes-resistant A/J mice. The effects of a diabetogenic diet on blood glucose and insulin levels, insulin sensitivity, and weight were evaluated in F1 and both (BL/6 × A/J) F1 × BL/6 and (BL/6 × A/J) F1 × A/J backcross mice. These results suggest that diet-induced hyperglycemia is largely determined by a recessive gene and diet-induced insulin resistance by a dominant gene. Analyses of both backcrosses indicated that insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels were unrelated, suggesting that they are controlled by different genetic factors. This conclusion was supported by data from nine recombinant inbred BXA strains in which no correlation was observed between these variables. Furthermore, insulin sensitivity and body weight correlated differently in the two backcross groups, suggesting that insulin resistance is not simply a function of obesity. The number of genes that predominantly influence diabetic traits was estimated by comparing the variance observed in (BL/6 × A/J) F1 × BL/6 backcross mice with that observed in parental mice. The data suggest that relatively few genes predominantly affect the diabetic phenotype in this murine model.

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