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J Immunol. 2004 Jul 15;173(2):787-96.

Expression of the B7.1 costimulatory molecule on pancreatic beta cells abrogates the requirement for CD4 T cells in the development of type 1 diabetes.

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Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Although HLA-DQ8 has been implicated as a key determinant of genetic susceptibility to human type 1 diabetes, spontaneous diabetes has been observed in HLA-DQ8 transgenic mice that lack expression of murine MHC class II molecules (mII(-/-)) only when the potent costimulatory molecule, B7.1, is transgenically expressed on pancreatic beta cells. To study the contribution of HLA-DQ8 to the development of diabetes in this model, we crossed RIP-B7.1mII(-/-) mice with a set of transgenic mouse lines that differed in their HLA-DQ8 expression patterns on APC subpopulations, in particular dendritic cells and cortical thymic epithelial cells. Surprisingly, we found that even in the absence of HLA-DQ8 and CD4 T cells, a substantial fraction of the RIP-B7.1mII(-/-) mice developed diabetes. This disease process was remarkable for not only showing insulitis, but also inflammatory destruction of the exocrine pancreas with diffusely up-regulated expression of MHC class I and ICAM-1 molecules. Expression of HLA-DQ8 markedly increased the kinetics and frequency of diabetes, with the most severe disease in the lines with the highest levels of HLA-DQ8 on cortical thymic epithelial cells and the largest numbers of CD4 T cells. However, the adoptive transfer of diabetes was not HLA-DQ8-dependent and disease could be rapidly induced with purified CD8 T cells alone. Expression of B7.1 in the target tissue can thus dramatically alter the cellular and molecular requirements for the development of autoimmunity.

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