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J Immunol. 2017 Jul 1;199(1):91-96. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1601570. Epub 2017 May 26.

Antigen-Specific T Cell Analysis Reveals That Active Immune Responses to β Cell Antigens Are Focused on a Unique Set of Epitopes.

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Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, Seattle, WA 98101; and.
Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, Seattle, WA 98101; and
Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98109.


CD38 is an activation marker that is present on recently activated T cells, but absent on resting memory T cells. In this study, we show that CD45RO+CD38+ β cell Ag-specific CD4+ T cells were present at higher frequencies in type 1 diabetes subjects compared with those in healthy subjects. These results imply an ongoing β cell immunity years after onset of diabetes and suggest these activated T cells have an active role in the disease process. The Ag specificities of these activated T cells were determined by a novel CD154 T cell epitope mapping assay. Although each patient usually had a unique set of epitopes recognized by these T cells, two epitopes, DR0401-restricted modified preproinsulin peptide 78-90K88S and zinc transport 8 266-285, were repeatedly identified in multiple subjects. Identifying these T cells and their specific antigenic epitopes might provide immunotherapeutic targets for personalized therapies.

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