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Diabetes in people and cats: a shared disease

Osto M, Zini E, Reusch CE and Lutz TA. Diabetes from humans to cats. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2012; 182C: 48-53.
Feline diabetes shares many features in common with human type-2 diabetes with respect to pathophysiology, risk factors, and treatment strategies. In this review article, the authors discuss the current knowledge on similarities and differences between diabetes in cats and humans. Both cats and humans are prone to develop obesity-induced insulin resistance, impaired beta-cell function, decreased number of beta-cells, and pancreatic amyloid deposition. In addition, cats and humans are susceptible to the detrimental effects of excess glucose (glucotoxicity); therefore, rapid restoration of normoglycemia may reverse glucotoxicity in the endocrine pancreas and restore beta-cell function and mass. 

In contrast to humans, hyperlipidemia does not appear to affect basal insulin levels or glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in cats. However, both hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia induce a systemic inflammation in cats that resembles that observed in human type-2 diabetes. Interestingly, in contrast in human with type-2 diabetes, local inflammatory reactions in the pancreatic islets are not observed in cats. Future studies are needed to clarify the role of inflammation (systemic or localized in the endocrine pancreas) and evaluate whether the activation of the same inflammatory mediators and ultimately the same inflammatory mechanisms occur in feline diabetes and human type-2 diabetes. [GO]

See also: Hoenig M. The cat as a model for human obesity and diabetes. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2012; 6: 525-33

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New approaches to treatment of feline diabetes mellitus (Sept. 2012)