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Cell. 1997 Apr 4;89(1):17-24.

The role of Fas in autoimmune diabetes.

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Section of Immunobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


Immunologically privileged sites express Fas ligand (FasL), which protects them from attack by activated T cells that express Fas and die upon contact with FasL. In an attempt to protect nonobese diabetic mice (NOD) from autoimmune diabetes, we made FasL transgenic NOD mice using the beta cell-specific rat insulin-1 promoter. Surprisingly, these transgenic mice showed heightened sensitivity to diabetogenic T cells, which was due to self-destruction of beta cells upon T cell-mediated induction of Fas. Fas-negative NOD(lpr/lpr) animals were resistant to diabetogenic T cells and to spontaneous diabetes. Thus, induction of Fas expression on beta cells and their subsequent destruction constitutes the main pathogenic mechanism in autoimmune diabetes.

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