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J Autoimmun. 1997 Jun;10(3):271-8.

BCG vaccination prevents insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) in NOD mice after disease acceleration with cyclophosphamide.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Western Ontario and John P. Robarts Research Institute, London, Canada.


We have previously shown that immunotherapy with complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) or BCG is highly effective in the prevention of spontaneous insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and in circumventing the rejection of syngeneic islet grafts in diabetic NOD mice. This protection is reversed by treatment with cyclophosphamide (Cy). The present study was undertaken to determine the effect of BCG vaccination on the progression of Cy-accelerated diabetes in NOD mice and to understand the mechanism of BCG immunotherapy. The time course of Cy and BCG administration showed that the progression of Cy-induced diabetes can only be blocked when BCG vaccination is given within 3 days of Cy administration. Mice given BCG 3 days before (-3 days) or 7 days after Cy treatment were not protected. BCG immunization 1 day after Cy treatment almost completely prevented insulitis in the islets of Cy-treated mice. Cy treatment reduced the endogenous production of anti-GAD67 antibody, whereas BCG vaccination 1 day after Cy treatment restored the production of anti-GAD67 antibody of IgG1 isotype. The comprehensive effect of BCG vaccination on cytokine production in Cy-treated mice was to increase IL-4 production and change the IL-4/IFN-gamma ratio in both serum and supernatant of spleen cell cultures. We found that BCG-induced protection was associated with increased splenic CD4+CD45 RB(high) T cells. Taken together, our results indicate that BCG treatment counteracts the effect of Cy on autoimmune process in IDDM. However, BCG immunotherapy has a narrow window of up to 3 days after Cy treatment to block the progression of Cy-induced diabetes and to allow for the induction of regulatory cells which may effectively downregulate the diabetogenic cells. In summary, our results suggest that BCG vaccination prevents IDDM if given in the prediabetic state. After the induction of diabetes, disease progression can only be prevented within a narrow window of opportunity by this treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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