The non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse develops diabetes as the result of spontaneous autoimmune insulitis and is widely used as a translational polygenic model of type 1 diabetes. Disease progression in the NOD mouse model is slow, involving a long prodromal phase of pancreatic islet infiltration before autoimmune β-cell destruction and manifestation of diabetic hyperglycemia, making the NOD mouse ideal for probing the effectiveness of potential disease prevention therapies. Improved understanding of the spatial dynamics of immune cell infiltration of the pancreas during the emergence and natural progression of autoimmune diabetes would permit further resolution of drug treatment effects in this model. The present study therefore aimed to image the spontaneous development and progression of autoimmune diabetes dynamically and at 3-dimensional cellular resolution in the NOD mouse. Female NOD mice were terminated before diabetes onset, at 14 and 18 weeks of age, and pancreata were isolated and divided into two alternating samples consisting of either the head and tail. One half was stained for insulin and CD45 using iDISCO whole-mount immunohistochemistry and subsequently scanned using a light sheet microscope. Islet infiltration was quantified using an in-house developed algorithm. The other half of each pancreas was simultaneously evaluated by flow cytometry to discriminate and quantify immune cells of lymphoid and myeloid lineage. Infiltrating CD45-positive leukocytes progressively increased in abundance over time, however, with highly variable distribution in the pancreas. Flow cytometry confirmed extensive leukocyte infiltration and revealed predominant changes in T-cell profiles.

In conclusion, 3D imaging allows for visualization and unbiased quantitative analysis of the unsynchronized spreading of insulitis into different parts of the pancreas in NOD mice.


B.B. Boland: Employee; Self; Gubra, MedImmune. A. Manresa-Arraut: None. R.V. Grônlund: None. U. Roostalu: Employee; Self; Gubra. J. Hecksher-Sørensen: Employee; Self; Gubra. Stock/Shareholder; Self; Novo Nordisk A/S. N. Vrang: Board Member; Self; Gubra. Stock/Shareholder; Self; Gubra. J. Jelsing: Stock/Shareholder; Self; Gubra. L.N. Fink: Employee; Self; Gubra. Stock/Shareholder; Self; Novo Nordisk A/S.

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