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Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2011 Oct;41(2):169-78. doi: 10.1007/s12016-010-8220-4.

Viruses and cytotoxic T lymphocytes in type 1 diabetes.

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Type 1 Diabetes Center, The La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, CA, 92037, USA.


Histopathological studies on pancreas tissues from individuals with recent-onset type 1 diabetes (T1D) consistently find that CD8 T cells substantially contribute to the formation of islet lesions. CD8 T cells reactive against islet-associated antigens can also be found in blood samples from T1D patients. Mechanistic studies on the pathogenic role of this T cell subset have mostly focused on two animal models, i.e., the non-obese diabetic mouse and the virally induced rat insulin promoter-lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus model. Data were obtained in support of a role for viral infection in expanding a population of diabetogenic cytotoxic T lymphocytes. In view of the theorized association of viral infection with initiation of islet autoimmunity and progression to clinically overt disease, CD8 T cells thus represent an attractive target for immunotherapy. We will review here arguments in favor of a pivotal role for CD8 T cells in driving T1D development and speculate on etiologic agents that may provoke their aberrant activation.

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