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Effects of Postnatal Stress on the Development of Type 1 Diabetes in Bank Voles (Clethrionomys glareolus)

Wild bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) kept in the laboratory under barren housing conditions develop high incidences of type 1 diabetes mellitus due to beta cellspecific lysis in association with the appearance of GAD65, IA-2, and insulin autoantibodies. Wild-caught and immediately analyzed voles show no histological signs of diabetes, and the disease may therefore be induced by circumstances related to the housing of the animals in captivity. We tested the possibility that postnatal stress by either maternal separation or water immersion at different intervals would induce diabetes in adult bank voles. We found that low-frequent stress during the first 21 days of life increases, whereas high-frequent stress markedly reduces, the incidence of type 1 diabetes in adulthood. These results differentiate the role of early-experienced stress on subsequent type 1 diabetes development and emphasize that the bank vole may serve as a useful new animal model for the disease.