Immune responses spread from one protein to another in type 1 diabetes

December 2, 2006

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) occurs when the immune system inappropriately attacks cells in the pancreas. Although many of the proteins attacked during T1D have been identified, it has not been determined whether immune responses to the individual proteins develop independently or whether a response to one protein then spreads to others. Now, a new study shows that in mice the immune system first attacks a single protein and then expands its attack to other proteins.

Using mice that develop a disease very similar to T1D (NOD mice), Thomas Kay and colleagues showed that NOD mice that were unable to mount an immune response to proinsulin also had no immune cells that recognized a second protein IGRP and did not develop diabetes.

By contrast, NOD mice that were unable to mount an immune response to IGRP had immune cells that recognize proinsulin and developed diabetes. This study demonstrates that diabetes in NOD mice is triggered by an immune response to a single protein that then spreads to other proteins. This study therefore has important implications for the development of therapeutics designed to make individuals with T1D no longer mount an immune response to a particular protein.

In an accompanying commentary, Lucienne Chatenoud and Sylvaine You from the Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades, France, discuss how it is important to determine the molecular and cellular events that underlie this spreading of the immune response so that the information can be translated to therapeutics for T1D and perhaps other autoimmune diseases.

Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation

Explore further: Discovery explains how Leishmania parasite boosts its infection

Related Stories

Deadly bacteria stiff-arm the immune system

October 14, 2015

The most severe Group A Streptococcus (strep) infections are often the work of one particularly nefarious strain known as M1T1, named in part for the type of tentacle-like M protein projecting from the bacterium's surface. ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.