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Eur J Immunol. 1992 Sep;22(9):2387-93.

Analysis of the roles of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in autoimmune diabetes of NOD mice using transfer to NOD athymic nude mice.

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Shionogi Research Laboratories, Shionogi & Co., Ltd., Osaka, Japan.


The NOD mouse, which spontaneously develops insulitis and overt diabetes, is a model of autoimmune type I diabetes mellitus. For the precise analysis of the roles of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the pathogenesis of this mouse, these subsets must be transferred into recipients that are completely free of T cells and pathological changes. We used athymic NOD nude mice, which congenitally lack mature T cells and are free of insulitis and hyperglycemia up to the age of 60 weeks, as recipients for this purpose. To the nude recipients we transferred either one of a highly purified CD4+ or CD8+ T cell subset derived from non-diabetic female NOD mice; any in vivo increase in the contaminating T cell subsets was prevented by injecting the antibody homologous to it. Most of the T cell-reconstituted recipients were treated with cyclophosphamide to promote the onset of overt diabetes. Transfer of the CD8+ T cell subset alone did not induce insulitis or hyperglycemia. In contrast, transfer of the CD4+ T cell subset alone produced insulitis, but not hyperglycemia, in all the recipients. However, the subsequent transfer of CD8+ T cells into CD4+ T cell-reconstituted recipients induced severe insulitis and hyperglycemia in almost all the recipients. In these diabetic recipients, we observed severe damage of the pancreatic islets and the infiltration of a large number of CD8+ T cells into the remaining islets; insulin-secreting beta cells were no longer detected. These results suggest that CD4+ T cells play a predominant role in the development of insulitis and that CD8+ T cells migrate into the islets and are subsequently, with the aid of CD4+ T cells, differentiated into killer cells which act against beta cells.

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