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J Immunol. 1999 Sep 1;163(5):2960-8.

Pancreas-infiltrating Th1 cells and diabetes develop in IL-12-deficient nonobese diabetic mice.

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Roche Milano Ricerche, Milano, Italy.


IL-12 and IL-12 antagonist administration to nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice accelerates and prevents insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), respectively. To further define the role of endogenous IL-12 in the development of diabetogenic Th1 cells, IL-12-deficient NOD mice were generated and analyzed. Th1 responses to exogenous Ags were reduced by approximately 80% in draining lymph nodes of these mice, and addition of IL-12, but not IL-18, restored Th1 development in vitro, indicating a nonredundant role of IL-12. Moreover, spontaneous Th1 responses to a self Ag, the tyrosine phosphatase-like IA-2, were undetectable in lymphoid organs from IL-12-deficient, in contrast to wild-type, NOD mice. Nevertheless, wild-type and IL-12-deficient NOD mice developed similar insulitis and IDDM. Both in wild-type and IL-12-deficient NOD mice, approximately 20% of pancreas-infiltrating CD4+ T cells produced IFN-gamma, whereas very few produced IL-10 or IL-4, indicating that IDDM was associated with a type 1 T cell infiltrate in the target organ. T cell recruitment in the pancreas seemed favored in IL-12-deficient NOD mice, as revealed by increased P-selectin ligand expression on pancreas-infiltrating T cells, and this could, at least in part, compensate for the defective Th1 cell pool recruitable from peripheral lymphoid organs. Residual Th1 cells could also accumulate in the pancreas of IL-12-deficient NOD mice because Th2 cells were not induced, in contrast to wild-type NOD mice treated with an IL-12 antagonist. Thus, a regulatory pathway seems necessary to counteract the pathogenic Th1 cells that develop in the absence of IL-12 in a spontaneous chronic progressive autoimmune disease under polygenic control, such as IDDM.

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