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Diabetes. 2003 Sep;52(9):2287-95.

Immunologic activity in the small intestinal mucosa of pediatric patients with type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1Hospital for Children and Adolescents, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Involvement of gut immune system has been implicated in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. However, few studies have been performed on the gut mucosa from patients with type 1 diabetes. Thus, we characterized the stage of immune activation in jejunal biopsy samples from 31 children with type 1 diabetes by immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and RT-PCR. We found enhanced expressions of HLA-DR, HLA-DP, and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 by immunohistochemistry even on structurally normal intestine of patients with type 1 diabetes and no signs of celiac disease. In addition, the densities of IL-1 alpha- and IL-4-positive cells detected by immunohistochemistry and IL-4 mRNA-expressing cells evaluated by in situ hybridization were increased in the lamina propria in patients with type 1 diabetes and normal mucosa. Instead, the densities of IL-2, gamma-interferon (IFN-gamma), and tumor necrosis factor alpha-positive cells, the density of IFN-gamma mRNA positive cells, and the amounts of IFN-gamma mRNA detected by RT-PCR correlated with the degree of celiac disease in patients with type 1 diabetes. Our study supports the hypothesis that a link exists between the gut immune system and type 1 diabetes.

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