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Diabetes. 2004 Aug;53(8):1995-2002.

Flt3-ligand treatment prevents diabetes in NOD mice.

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Institute for Cellular Therapeutics, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky 40202-1760, USA.


The mechanism by which mixed chimerism reverses autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes has not been defined. NOD mice have a well-characterized defect in the production of myeloid progenitors that is believed to contribute significantly to the autoimmune process. We therefore investigated whether chimerism induces a correction of this defect. Mixed chimerism restored production of myeloid progenitors in NOD mice to normal levels. Notably, NOD bone marrow cells as well as donor bone marrow cells produced the mature myeloid progeny, and the level of donor chimerism was not correlated with the degree of restoration of the defect. Moreover, NOD bone marrow cells cultured with Flt3-ligand developed a heat-stable antigen-positive/Ly6C+ population comprised primarily of mature myeloid dendritic cells, suggesting that the underlying abnormality is not cell intrinsic but rather due to a block in development of mature myeloid progeny, including myeloid dendritic cells. Strikingly, treatment of NOD mice with Flt3-ligand significantly decreased insulitis and progression to diabetes and was associated with a significant increase in myeloid dendritic cells and in vivo induction of CD4+/CD25+ cells in the pancreatic lymph node. Therefore, Flt3-ligand treatment and/or the establishment of mixed chimerism in prediabetic candidates may provide a benign and novel approach to treat diabetes.

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