Prolonged survival and improved glycemia in BioBreeding diabetic rats after early sustained exposure to glucagon-like peptide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Type 1 diabetes (T1D) in both humans and BioBreeding (BB) rats is an autoimmune disease that results in complete destruction of islets and insulin dependency for life. Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) promotes β cell proliferation and neogenesis and has a potent insulinotropic effect. We hypothesized that the expression of GLP-1 before disease onset would increase islet mass, delay diabetes and prolong survival of BB rats. Methods: Vascular smooth muscle cells retrovirally transduced to secrete GLP-1 were seeded into TheraCyte™ encapsulation devices, implanted subcutaneously, and rats were monitored for diabetes. Results: In untreated control rats, plasma GLP-1 levels were 34.5-39.5 pmol/l, whereas, in treated rats, plasma levels were elevated, in the range 90-250.4 pmol/l. Hypoglycemia was not detected and this was anticipated from the glucose-regulated action of GLP-1. Diabetes onset (mean ± SEM) in untreated rats occurred at 56.5 ± 0.6 days (n = 6) and, in GLP-1-treated rats, was delayed until 76.4 ± 3.3 days (n = 5) (p < 0.001). After disease onset, untreated control rats showed a rapid weight loss and elevated blood glucose (>650 mg/dl) and did not survive beyond 11 days. At 5 days after diabetes onset, insulin-secreting islets were absent in untreated rats. By contrast, treated rats maintained weight for up to 143 days of age and showed insulin-secreting β cells. Conclusions: Sustained GLP-1 expression delivered by encapsulated cells before diabetes onset in BB rats showed an improved clinical outcome, suggesting the potential for treating patients using long lasting GLP-1 analogs.


  • Ofer Yanay
  • Daniel H. Moralejo
  • Kelly Kernan
  • Margaret Brzezinski
  • Jessica M. Fuller
  • Randall W. Barton
  • Ake Lernmark
  • William R. Osborne
External organisations
  • University of Washington
Research areas and keywords


  • BB rats, Bioisolator, Diabetes, GLP-1, β cells
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-544
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Gene Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes