A novel chronic in vivo oral cadmium exposure-washout mouse model for studying cadmium toxicity and complex diabetogenic effects

Winifred P.S. Wong, Janice C. Wang, Matthew S. Meyers, Nathan J. Wang, Rebecca A. Sponenburg, Norrina B. Allen, Joshua R. Edwards, Malek El Muayed*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is characterized by insulin resistance, β-cell dysfunction and hyperglycemia. In addition to well known risk factors such as lifestyle and genetic risk score, accumulation of environmental toxicants in organs relevant to glucose metabolism is increasingly recognized as additional risk factors for T2DM. Here, we describe the development of an in vivo oral cadmium (Cd) exposure model. It was shown that oral Cd exposure in drinking water followed by washout and high fat diet (HFD) in C57BL/6N mice results in islet Cd bioaccumulation comparable to that found in native human islets while mitigating the anorexic effects of Cd to achieve the same weight gain required to induce insulin resistance as in Cd naïve control mice. Inter individual variation in plasma glucose and insulin levels as well as islet Cd bioaccumulation was observed in both female and male mice. Regression analysis showed an inverse correlation between islet Cd level and plasma insulin following a glucose challenge in males but not in females. This finding highlights the need to account for inter individual target tissue Cd concentrations when interpreting results from in vivo Cd exposure models. No effect of Cd on insulin secretion was observed in islets ex vivo, highlighting differences between in vivo and ex vivo cadmium exposure models. In summary, our oral in vivo Cd exposure-washout with HFD model resulted in islet Cd bioaccumulation that is relevant in the context of environmental cadmium exposure in humans. Here, we showed that islet Cd bioaccumulation is associated with complex cadmium-mediated changes in glucose clearance and β-cell function. The model described here will serve as a useful tool to further examine the relationship between Cd exposure, islet Cd bioaccumulation, dysglycemia and their underlying mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116057
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
StatePublished - Jul 15 2022


  • Cadmium
  • High fat diet
  • Insulin
  • Mouse model
  • Pancreatic islets
  • Type II diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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