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Infect Immun. 1978 Aug;21(2):425-9.

Cell-mediated immunity in diabetes mellitus.


Cell-mediated immunity was evaluated in patients with diabetes mellitus by delayed hypersensitivity skin tests and in vitro lymphocyte transformations. Only 44% of diabetic patients had skin test reactivity to Candida antigen, compared with 88% of normal controls (P < 0.001). Insulin-dependent diabetic (IDD) patients had abnormally low lymphocyte transformation responses to phytohemagglutinin, concanavalin A, and streptokinase-streptodornase (P < 0.05). This defect was not corrected by culturing the cells in nondiabetic plasma. IDD patients with persistent hyperglycemia (fasting serum glucose level, >200 mg/dl) had lower levels of transformation than did IDD patients with fasting serum glucose levels less than 150 mg/dl. Lymphocytes from two IDD patients with poor lymphocyte transformation responses had marked improvement in response to phytohemagglutinin when the lymphocytes were cultured after a preincubation period designed to deplete cultures of suppressor activity. Seven IDD patients were studied serially over 12 months. Lymphocyte transformation responses in four of these patients improved coincidentally with a change in the level of fasting hyperglycemia from >200 to <150 mg/dl. The other three IDD patients with consistent fasting serum glucose levels of >200 mg/dl had poor lymphocyte transformation responses. Diabetic patients have demonstrable defects in lymphocyte function which improved in a small number of patients with reduction in the level of fasting hyperglycemia.

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