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Science. 1993 Jun 25;260(5116):1942-6.

Induction of type I diabetes by interferon-alpha in transgenic mice.

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  • 1Department of Endocrine Research, Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, CA 94080.


Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease involving an interaction between an epigenetic event (possibly a viral infection), the pancreatic beta cells, and the immune system in a genetically susceptible host. The possibility that the type I interferons could mediate this interaction was tested with transgenic mice in which the insulin-producing beta cells expressed an interferon-alpha. These mice developed a hypoinsulinemic diabetes associated with a mixed inflammation centered on the islets. The inflammation and the diabetes were prevented with a neutralizing antibody to the interferon-alpha. Thus, the expression of interferon-alpha by the beta cells could be causal in the development of type I diabetes, which suggests a therapeutic approach to this disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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