Streptozotocin (STZ) causes β cell necrosis and insulin-dependent diabetes in many species. The specificity of this β cell toxin relates to its structure as an alkylating agent with an attached glucose moiety. STZ uptake by rodent β cells appears to be via the GLUT-2 glucose transporter. Teleost fish, in general, are severely glucose intolerant. The effects of STZ were examined in tilapia, a teleost fish with highly glucose-responsive islets. Fasted tilapia were given 0, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, or 350 mg/kg STZ iv. Plasma glucose levels were followed for 72 h and the fish autopsied. Histological sections of islets were stained by immunoperoxidase for tilapia insulin. Severe hyperglycemia was seen in 20, 80, and 100% of fish receiving 250, 300, and 350 mg/kg doses; however, sections of islets showed only partial degranulation with no evidence of β cell necrosis. Another group of fish receiving the highest dose were followed longer to determine whether β cell necrosis and permanent hyperglycemia ensued. All fish died or were killed within 9 days because of severe hepatic failure characterized by hepatic necrosis, jaundice, and ascites; islet morphology was relatively normal suggesting, even in a glucose-sensitive species, that fish islets either do not take up STZ or are highly resistant to its 'diabetogenic' effects. Tilapia may thus be a useful model to elucidate mechanisms of action of STZ. Furthermore, STZ may provide important insights into differences in glucose uptake and metabolism by mammalian and piscine β cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology