Autoimmune diabetes onset results from qualitative rather than quantitative age-dependent changes in pathogenic T-cells.
You S., Belghith M., Cobbold S., Alyanakian MA., Gouarin C., Barriot S., Garcia C., Waldmann H., Bach JF., Chatenoud L.
Diabetogenic T-cells can be detected in pre-diabetic nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice after transfer in NOD-SCID recipients. Here we demonstrate that 6-week-old pre-diabetic NOD mice, >2 months before disease onset, already harbor pathogenic T-cells in equal numbers to overtly diabetic animals. The delay in diabetes appearance is explained by the presence of regulatory CD4+ CD25+ T-cells that control diabetogenic effectors and that are, in our hands, transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta-dependent. Our present results suggest, however, that diabetes onset is only partly explained by a decline in this regulatory T-cell activity. Another major factor appears to be the progressive resistance of diabetogenic cells to TGF-beta-dependent mediated inhibition. We propose that progression to overt disease correlates with the pathogenic T-cell's escape from TGF-beta-dependent T-cell-mediated regulation.