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Clin Exp Immunol. 2013 Jun;172(3):394-402. doi: 10.1111/cei.12078.

Regulatory T cell phenotype and function 4 years after GAD-alum treatment in children with type 1 diabetes.

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Division of Pediatrics, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.


Glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD)(65) formulated with aluminium hydroxide (GAD-alum) was effective in preserving insulin secretion in a Phase II clinical trial in children and adolescents with recent-onset type 1 diabetes. In addition, GAD-alum treated patients increased CD4(+) CD25(hi) forkhead box protein 3(+) (FoxP3(+)) cell numbers in response to in-vitro GAD(65) stimulation. We have carried out a 4-year follow-up study of 59 of the original 70 patients to investigate long-term effects on the frequency and function of regulatory T cells after GAD-alum treatment. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were stimulated in vitro with GAD65 for 7 days and expression of regulatory T cell markers was measured by flow cytometry. Regulatory T cells (CD4(+) CD25(hi) CD127(lo)) and effector T cells (CD4(+) CD25(-) CD127(+)) were further sorted, expanded and used in suppression assays to assess regulatory T cell function after GAD-alum treatment. GAD-alum-treated patients displayed higher frequencies of in-vitro GAD(65) -induced CD4(+) CD25(+) CD127(+) as well as CD4(+) CD25(hi) CD127(lo) and CD4(+) FoxP3(+) cells compared to placebo. Moreover, GAD(65) stimulation induced a population of CD4(hi) cells consisting mainly of CD25(+) CD127(+) , which was specific of GAD-alum-treated patients (16 of 25 versus one of 25 in placebo). Assessment of suppressive function in expanded regulatory T cells revealed no difference between GAD-alum- and placebo-treated individuals. Regulatory T cell frequency did not correlate with C-peptide secretion throughout the study. In conclusion, GAD-alum treatment induced both GAD(65) -reactive CD25(+) CD127(+) and CD25(hi) CD127(lo) cells, but no difference in regulatory T cell function 4 years after GAD-alum treatment.

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