Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 1998; 106(6): 478-483
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1212020

© J. A. Barth Verlag in Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Apoptosis in the adrenal gland of non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice

M. Breidert1 , A. Böttner2 , S. Möller3 , L. Herberg2 , S. Bornstein4
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Dresden, Germany
  • 2Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany
  • 3Department of Internal Medicine III, University of Leipzig, Germany
  • 4Developmental Endocrinology Branch, NICHD, NIH Clinical Center, Bethesda, USA
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
14 July 2009 (online)


Apoptosis appears to play an important role in the development of diabetes in the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse. Since the autoimmune process leading to the manifestation of insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) can also affect the sympathochromaffin system, we analyzed the role of apoptosis and infiltration of the adrenal medulla as features of this autoimmune process in parallel with the development of diabetes.

Prediabetic and diabetic NOD mice aged 3 to 30 weeks were studied and compared with control mice. Apoptosis was assessed by in situ end-labeling method and ultrastructural analysis. Adrenals were screened for lymphocytic infiltration by conventional hematoxylin-eosin staining. Chromaffm cells were characterized by immunohistochemical staining against synaptophysin and tyrosine hydroxylase.

Apoptotic nuclei were detected in all mice studied at a very low level, mainly occuring within the connective tissue between medulla and cortex. The maximum score was achieved at 3 weeks (1.91 ± 0.48 apoptotic cells/1000 counted cells; n = 4). There was no significant difference between NOD mice and control mice. No correlation could be found between blood glucose levels and apoptosis. On the ultrastructural level, apoptotic cells presented typical features of apoptosis, i.e. condensed nuclei and cytoplasm. Neither in NOD mice nor in controls lymphocytic infiltration or fibrosis of the adrenal was detected. Even NOD mice with overt diabetes did not exhibit morphological signs of medullitis. In summary, no signs of immune destruction of the adrenal medulla in NOD mice aged 3 to 30 weeks could be detected.