Diabetes is a major worldwide health problem. It is widely accepted that the beta cell mass decreases in type I diabetes (T1D). Accordingly, beta cell regeneration is a promising approach to increase the beta cell mass in T1D patients. However, the underlying mechanisms of beta cell regeneration have yet to be elucidated. One promising avenue is to create a relevant animal model to explore the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms of beta cell regeneration. The zebrafish can be considered a model in beta cell regeneration studies because the pancreas structure and gene expression pattern are highly conserved between human and zebrafish.
In this study, the Tol2 transposase was exploited to generate a Tg(Ins:egfp-nfsB) zebrafish model that expressed a fusion protein composed of enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) and nitroreductase (NTR) under control of the Ins promoter.
Metronidazole (MTZ) treatment of Tg(ins:egfp-nfsB) zebrafish larvae led to selective ablation of beta cells. Proof-of-concept evidence for beta cell regeneration in the transgenic larvae was observed two days after withdrawal of MTZ.
This study suggests that the Tg(ins:egfp-nfsB) zebrafish can be used as a disease model to study beta cell regeneration and elucidate underlying mechanisms during the regeneration process.