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J Autoimmun. 1994 Oct;7(5):655-63.

Oral administration of human insulin to NOD mice generates CD4+ T cells that suppress adoptive transfer of diabetes.

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INSERM U. 197, Faculté de Médecine Alexis Carrel, Lyon, France.


Oral administration of porcine insulin has been shown to be effective in preventing the spontaneous occurrence of diabetes in the Non-Obese Diabetic (NOD) mouse model. In the present study, we demonstrate that feeding 6-week-old female mice with 20 units of human insulin every 2-3 days for 30 days induces an active mechanism of suppression through the generation of regulatory T cells. Adult irradiated NOD males i.v. injected with 5 x 10(6) T cells from the spleens of diabetic female donors and the same number of T cells from the spleens of insulin-fed animals had less successful diabetes transfer than controls (4/15 vs. 8/16, P < 0.001). Protection from clinical diabetes was associated with a reduction in severe insulitis (16.4 +/- 3.6% vs. 52.3 +/- 12.8%, P = 0.023). However, more than 85% of the islets were inflamed. Feeding animals for 15 days reduced the magnitude of this protection since the number of successful transfers after 1 month was comparable (12/17 vs. 14/17) despite a significant delay in diabetes onset (P < 0.001). No difference in the contribution of T cell subsets was noted by cytofluorometry in the spleens of treated animals. When T cell subsets from insulin-fed animals were co-injected with diabetogenic T cells, only purified CD4+ T cells were able to transfer protection since only 3/12 mice became diabetic after 36 days in comparison to 3/6 in the group co-injected with CD4+ T cells from PBS-fed animals, or 5/6 in the group injected with CD8+ T cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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