Sexually monogamous mice at lower diabetes risk

November 6th, 2008 - 4:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 6 (IANS) Sexually monogamous males are less vulnerable to diabetes than their promiscuous counterparts, according to a study on mice. Males of a calmer, more monogamous species were found to have a higher level of stress hormones and a superior ability to regulate blood sugar than males of a less calm, less monogamous species, or females of either species.

Scientists may have learned much about disease with the help of common lab mice, but there are limits since controlled breeding and diet introduce artificial influences.

Accordingly Roxanne Oriel, Paul Vrana and colleagues of University of California-Irvine (UC-I), studied glucose tolerance, a test often used to diagnose diabetes and metabolic syndrome, in a type of field mouse native to North America.

They chose two species of genetically related Peromyscus, which differ in their behavioural traits and native environment.

During their tests, they discovered that merely handling the male mice and subjecting them to a placebo test - where glucose was replaced with saline - resulted in significant differences in blood sugar levels, according to an UC-I release.

In combination with studies on male mice bred to have only swapped “male” Y chromosomes, their study shows that a genetic variance linked to the Y chromosome is responsible for the species-specific responses of the males to stress.

Since previous studies of primates by other research groups demonstrates a link between stress hormone levels and monogamy, the UC-I group proposed that superior stress tolerance and blood sugar regulation is related to monogamy in these mice.

The study was published in Disease Models & Mechanisms.

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