Intermolecular antigen spreading occurs during the preclinical period of human type 1 diabetes.

Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
The Journal of Immunology (Impact Factor: 5.36). 05/2001; 166(8):5265-70. DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.166.8.5265
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Intra- and intermolecular spreading of T cell responses to autoantigens has been implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. Therefore, we questioned whether T cell responses from subjects identified as at-risk (positive for autoantibody reactivity to islet proteins) for the development of type 1 diabetes, a cell-mediated autoimmune disease, would demonstrate intermolecular Ag spreading of T cell responses to islet cell proteins. Previously, we have demonstrated that by the time subjects develop type 1 diabetes, they have T cell responses to numerous islet proteins, whereas T cells from normal controls respond to a limited number of islet proteins. Initial testing of PBMC responses from 25 nondiabetic at-risk subjects demonstrated that 16 of the 25 subjects have PBMC responses to islet proteins similar to controls. Fourteen of these 16 subjects were available for follow-up. Eleven of the 14 developed T cell responses to increasing numbers of islet proteins, and 6 of these subjects developed type 1 diabetes. In the nine subjects who already demonstrated T cell Ag spreading at the initial visit, four were available for follow-up. Of these four, two had increases in T cell reactivity to islet proteins, while two maintained their initial levels of T cell reactivity. We also observed Ag spreading in autoantibody reactivity to islet proteins in nine of the 18 at-risk subjects available for follow-up. Our data strongly support the conclusion that intermolecular spreading of T cell and Ab responses to islet proteins occurs during the preclinical period of type 1 diabetes.

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