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International Journal of Experimental Diabetes Research
Volume 1 (2000), Issue 3, Pages 177-184

Characterization of Obesity Phenotypes in Psammomys Obesus (Israeli Sand Rats)

1Metabolic Research Unit, School of Health Sciences, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Victoria 3217, Australia
2lnternational Diabetes Institute, Caulfield, Victoria 3162, Australia

Accepted 28 February 2000

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Psammomys obesus (the Israeli sand rat) has been well studied as an animal model of Type 2 diabetes. However, obesity phenotypes in these animals have not been fully characterized. We analyzed phenotypic data including body weight, percentage body fat, blood glucose and plasma insulin concentration for over 600 animals from the Psammomys obesus colony at Deakin University to investigate the relationships between body fat, body weight and Type 2 diabetes using regression analysis and general linear modelling. The body weight distribution in Psammomys obesus approximates a normal distribution and closely resembles that observed in human populations. Animals above the 75th percentile for body weight had increased body fat content and a greater risk of developing diabetes. Increased visceral fat content .was also associated with elevated blood glucose and plasma insulin concentrations in these animals. A familial effect was also demonstrated in Psammomys obesus, and accounted for 51% of the variation in body weight, and 23–26% of the variation in blood glucose and plasma insulin concentrations in these animals. Psammomys obesus represents an excellent animal model of.obesity and Type 2 diabetes that exhibits a phenotypic pattern closely resembling that observed in human population studies. The obesity described in these animals was familial in nature and was significantly associated with Type 2 diabetes.