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Hum Immunol. 2008 Sep;69(9):543-51. doi: 10.1016/j.humimm.2008.06.008. Epub 2008 Jul 17.

Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-mediated killing of human pancreatic islet cells in vitro.

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St Vincent's Institute, The University of Melbourne Department of Medicine, St. Vincent's Hospital, Fitzroy, Australia.


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) are believed to play an essential role in beta-cell destruction leading to development of type 1 diabetes and allogeneic islet graft failure. We aimed to identify the mechanisms used by CTL to kill human beta cells. CTL clones that recognize epitopes from influenza virus and Epstein-Barr virus restricted by human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A0201 and -B0801, respectively, were used to investigate the susceptibility of human beta cells to CTL. In a short-term (5-hour) assay, CTL killed human islet cells of the appropriate major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I type that had been pulsed with viral peptides. Killing was increased by pretreating islets with interferon gamma that increases MHC class I on target cells. Killing was abolished by incubation of CTL with the perforin inhibitor concanamycin A. The Fas pathway did not contribute to killing because blocking with neutralizing anti-Fas ligand antibody did not significantly reduce beta-cell killing. In conclusion, we report a novel way of investigating the interaction between CTL and human islets. Human islets were rapidly killed in vitro by MHC class I-restricted CTL predominantly by the granule exocytosis pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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