In 1974, the discovery of a mouse and a rat that spontaneously developed hyperglycemia led to the development of 2 autoimmune diabetes models: nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse and Bio-Breeding rat. These models have contributed to our understanding of autoimmune diabetes, provided tools to dissect autoimmune islet damage, and facilitated development of early detection, prevention, and treatment of type 1 diabetes. The genetic characterization, monoclonal antibodies, and congenic strains have made NOD mice especially useful.
Although the establishment of the inbred NOD mouse strain was documented by Makino et al (Jikken Dobutsu. 1980;29:1–13), this review will focus on the not-as-well-known history leading to the discovery of a glycosuric female mouse by Yoshihiro Tochino. This discovery was spearheaded by years of effort by Japanese scientists from different disciplines and dedicated animal care personnel and by the support of the Shionogi Pharmaceutical Company, Osaka, Japan. The history is based on the early literature, mostly written in Japanese, and personal communications especially with Dr Tochino, who was involved in diabetes animal model development and who contributed to the release of NOD mice to the international scientific community. This article also reviews the scientific contributions made by the Bio-Breeding rat to autoimmune diabetes.