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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 26;105(34):12439-44. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806439105. Epub 2008 Aug 20.

Interferon-alpha initiates type 1 diabetes in nonobese diabetic mice.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


With the goal of identifying changes in gene expression in CD4(+) T cells during the development of diabetes in the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse, we used DNA microarrays to analyze gene expression in CD4(+) T cells from the pancreatic draining lymph nodes of NOD/BDC 2.5 T cell receptor transgenic and WT NOD mice at different ages. At 4 and 6 weeks of age, we found up-regulation of a number of genes that are known to be induced by IFN-alpha. IFN-alpha levels and IFN-alpha-producing plasmacytoid dendritic cells were increased in the PLNs of 3- to 4-week-old NOD mice. Moreover, blockade of IFN-alpha receptor 1 in NOD mice by a neutralizing antibody at 2-3 weeks of age significantly delayed the onset and decreased the incidence of type 1 diabetes, increased the relative number of immature dendritic cells in the PLNs, and enhanced the ability of spleen CD4(+) T cells to produce IL-4 and IL-10. These findings demonstrate that IFN-alpha in the PLNs is an essential initiator in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes in NOD mice.

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