• Insulin;
  • NOD mouse;
  • Prevention;
  • T cells;
  • Type 1 diabetes

Despite encouraging results in the NOD mouse, type 1 diabetes prevention trials using subcutaneous insulin have been unsuccessful. To explain these discrepancies, 3-week-old NOD mice were treated for 7 weeks with subcutaneous insulin at two different doses: a high dose (0.5 U/mouse) used in previous mouse studies; and a low dose (0.005 U/mouse) equivalent to that used in human trials. Effects on insulitis and diabetes were monitored along with immune and metabolic modifications. Low-dose insulin did not have any effect on disease incidence. High-dose treatment delayed but did not prevent diabetes, with reduced insulitis reappearing once insulin discontinued. This effect was not associated with significant immune changes in islet infiltrates, either in terms of cell composition or frequency and IFN-γ secretion of islet-reactive CD8+ T cells recognizing the immunodominant epitopes insulin B15-23 and islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein (IGRP)206-214. Delayed diabetes and insulitis were assoc-iated with lower blood glucose and endogenous C-peptide levels, which rapidly returned to normal upon treatment discontinuation. In conclusion, high- but not low-dose prophylactic insulin treatment delays diabetes onset and is associated with metabolic changes suggestive of β-cell “rest” which do not persist beyond treatment. These findings have important implications for designing insulin-based prevention trials.