Caloric restriction in obese pre-diabetic rats prevents beta-cell depletion, loss of beta-cell GLUT 2 and glucose incompetence

M. Ohneda, L. R. Inman, Roger H Unger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Pre-diabetic male Zucker diabetic fatty rats (ZDF) become diabetic between 8 and 10 weeks of age. At that time their beta cells exhibit high basal insulin secretion, absent insulin response to glucose and loss of GLUT 2 glucose transporter. Beta-cell volume, which is increased at the onset of non-insulin-dependent diabetes, declines precipitously by age 18 weeks. To determine if expression of this diabetic phenotype was dependent upon the increased food intake of these rats, they were diet-matched to lean littermates for 12 weeks beginning at 6 weeks of age. Untreated control ZDF rats received an unrestricted diet for 3 months. All of the controls became hyperglycaemic by 8 weeks of age, whereas all diet-matched rats remained euglycaemic throughout the 3 months, despite the fact that at 18 weeks of age their mean body weight equaled that of obese rats on an unrestricted diet. In the former rats glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was absent at 12 weeks of age and GLUT-2-positive beta cells had fallen below 30%. The volume fraction of their beta cells was 2.6 times normal at this age but by 18 weeks of age it had declined by 75%. Diet restriction for 3 months prevented the loss of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and the reduction of beta-cell GLUT-2 and beta-cell volume fraction. However, neither the elevated basal insulin secretion nor the exaggerated arginine-stimulated insulin secretion of the obese rats was reversed or prevented by caloric restriction. We conclude that in diabetic ZDF rats the glucose incompetence of beta cells and the reduction of beta-cell GLUT 2, which coincide with the onset of hyperglycaemia, and the subsequent loss of beta-cell volume, occur only when the caloric intake is excessive. The increased basal insulin secretion and exaggerated insulin response to arginine appear to be relatively independent of caloric intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1995


  • GLUT 2
  • Zucker rats
  • beta-cell depletion
  • caloric restriction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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