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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Mar;87(6):2239-43.

Genes encoding tumor necrosis factor alpha and granzyme A are expressed during development of autoimmune diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Bern, Switzerland.


Progressive destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells in nonobese diabetic mice is observed after infiltration of the pancreas with lymphocytes [Makino, S., Kunimoto, K., Muraoka, Y., Mizushima, Y., Katagiri, K. & Tochino, Y. (1980) Exp. Anim. (Tokyo) 29, 1-13]. We show that the genes for tumor necrosis factor alpha and granzyme A, a serine protease associated with cytoplasmic granules of cytotoxic cells, are expressed during the development of spontaneous diabetes mellitus in the nonobese diabetic mouse. Granzyme A-positive cells are found both in and surrounding the islets, implying induction prior to islet infiltration. Tumor necrosis factor alpha expression is exclusively observed in the intra-islet infiltrate, predominantly in lymphocytes adjacent to insulin-producing beta cells, the targets of the autoimmune destruction, implying that tumor necrosis factor alpha expression is induced locally--i.e., in the islet. A considerable portion of cells expressing tumor necrosis factor alpha appear to be CD4+ T cells. This T-cell subset was previously shown to be necessary for development of the disease. Thus, these findings may be important for understanding the pathogenesis of autoimmune diabetes mellitus and potentially also for that of other T-cell-mediated autoimmune diseases.

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