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Diabetes. 2014 Mar;63(3):1032-40. doi: 10.2337/db13-1210. Epub 2013 Dec 18.

Deficiency in type I interferon signaling prevents the early interferon-induced gene signature in pancreatic islets but not type 1 diabetes in NOD mice.

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  • 1St. Vincent's Institute, Fitzroy, Australia.


Type I interferons (IFNs) have been implicated in the initiation of islet autoimmunity and development of type 1 diabetes. To directly test their involvement, we generated NOD mice deficient in type I IFN receptors (NOD.IFNAR1(-/-)). Expression of the type I IFN-induced genes Mx1, Isg15, Ifit1, Oas1a, and Cxcr4 was detectable in NOD islets as early as 1 week of age. Of these five genes, expression of Isg15, Ifit1, Oas1a, and Mx1 peaked at 3-4 weeks of age, corresponding with an increase in Ifnα mRNA, declined at 5-6 weeks of age, and increased again at 10-14 weeks of age. Increased IFN-induced gene expression was ablated in NOD.IFNAR1(-/-) islets. Loss of Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) resulted in reduced islet expression of Mx1 at 2 weeks of age, but TLR2 or TLR9 deficiency did not change the expression of other IFN-induced genes in islets compared with wild-type NOD islets. We observed increased β-cell major histocompatibility complex class I expression with age in NOD and NOD.IFNAR1(-/-) mice. NOD.IFNAR1(-/-) mice developed insulitis and diabetes at a similar rate to NOD controls. These results indicate type I IFN is produced within islets in young mice but is not essential for the initiation and progression of diabetes in NOD mice.

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