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J Clin Invest. 1995 Feb;95(2):628-34.

Insulin immunization of nonobese diabetic mice induces a protective insulitis characterized by diminished intraislet interferon-gamma transcription.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Florida, College of Medicine, Gainesville 32610.


We reported previously that daily injections of isophane insulin prevented both hyperglycemia and insulitis in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice (Atkinson, M., N. Maclaren; and R. Luchetta. 1990. Diabetes. 39:933-937). The possible mechanisms responsible include reduced immunogenicity of pancreatic beta-cells from "beta-cell rest" and induced active immunoregulation to insulin (Aaen, IK., J. Rygaard, K. Josefsen, H. Petersen, C. H. Brogren, T. Horn, and K. Buschard. 1990. Diabetes. 39:697-701). We report here that intermittent immunizations with insulin or its metabolically inactive B-chain in incomplete Freund's adjuvant also prevent diabetes in NOD mice, whereas immunizations with A-chain insulin or with BSA do not. Adoptive transfer of splenocytes from B-chain insulin-immunized mice prevented diabetes in recipients co-infused with diabetogenic spleen cells, an effect that was abolished by prior in vivo elimination of either CD4+ or CD8+ cells. Insulin immunization did not reduce the extent of intraislet inflammation (insulitis); however, it did abolish expression of IFN-gamma mRNA within the insulitis lesions. Immunizations with insulin thus induce an active suppressive response to determinants on the B-chain that converts the insulitis lesion from one that is destructive to one that is protective.

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