The role of dietary zinc in modifying the onset and severity of spontaneous diabetes in the BB Wistar rat

Mario H. Tobia, Martin M. Zdanowicz, Mark A. Wingertzahn, Barbara McHeffey-Atkinson, Alfred E. Slonim, Raul A. Wapnir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to determine whether zinc supplementation in the diet of diabetes-prone BB Wistar rats will delay or prevent the onset of overt diabetes. Male Wistar BB rats were fed diets containing either 1000 ppm (HZ), 50 ppm (NZ), or 1 ppm zinc (LZ) starting at 30 days of age. Non- diabetes-prone rats were fed NZ and designated as controls (NORM). Beginning at 60 days, the rats were checked for glycosuria and, if positive, were given an ip glucose tolerance test (IPGTT). All remaining animals underwent an IPGTT at 100 days and were sacrificed. At 90 days of age HZ rats had a lower incidence of diabetes (19%) than NZ (53%) or LZ (44%) animals (P < 0.015). By age 100 days, for the HZ group, there was a 60% reduction in the number of expected overt diabetic rats. HZ animals also had higher concentrations of both pancreatic and serum insulin and exhibited lower serum glucose and triglycerides. Immunohistochemistry of HZ rats was clearly different from NZ rats and showed evidence of nearly normal pancreatic endocrine activity. Data indicate that dietary treatment of diabetesprone BB Wistar rats with zinc appears to be an effective approach for delaying or preventing the onset of diabetes in genetically predisposed rodents. This finding may suggest further experimental studies regarding dietary means for preservation of pancreatic function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • BB Wistar rat
  • Diabetes
  • Insulin secretion
  • Insulitis
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology


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