Volume 30 (2007) Issue 3 Pages 470-476
The present study investigated whether Astragalus polysaccharide (APS) possessed immunotherapeutic effects on type 1 diabetes mellitus. Diabetic mice induced by multiple low dose streptozotocin (MLD-STZ) were administered either APS (100, 200, 400 mg/kg body weight) or saline intraperitoneally daily, and sacrificed after 15 or 30 d of treatment. Meanwhile normal mice not treated with STZ nor with APS were offered into non-diabetic group. Blood glucose and serum insulin levels were measured, histologic and morphometric analyses of the pancreas were performed to determine the effect of APS on pancreatic islets. Further investigations on immune changes in spleens were tested by ELISA, semi-quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot. Downregulated blood glucose level, upregulated serum insulin concentration, increased β cell mass, decreased apoptotic β cell percentage, downregulation of Th1/Th2 cytokine ratio and upregulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) gene expression in spleens were significantly time- and dose-dependent on APS treatment, when compared to saline controls. These results show that APS seems to be helpful to attenuate insulitis and preserve β cells from apoptosis, but it can't entirely rescue type 1 diabetes mellitus. APS ameliorates both the clinical and histological parameters of the MLD-STZ induced diabetic mice in a long-lasting fashion, most likely through immunoregulatory actions on Th1/Th2 cytokine ratio, strongly associated with PPARγ gene expression in spleens.