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Diabetologia. 1998 Mar;41(3):343-9.

Cytokine overproduction in healthy first degree relatives of patients with IDDM.

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Department of Immunology, King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK.


Healthy family members of patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) are known to share a number of immunological abnormalities with their affected relatives. Since monocyte and type 1 T-cell-derived cytokines contribute to the pathogenesis of IDDM, we studied the production of these cytokines in the healthy first degree relatives of 29 children with IDDM. We report that circulating tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and soluble interleukin-2 (sIL-2) receptor were present in increased amounts in non-diabetic family members at levels similar to those found in the diabetic children (duration of disease 3 months-5 years). Furthermore, marked hypersecretion of IL-1alpha and TNF-alpha by mitogen-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells was found in both diabetic and healthy family members. Abnormalities of cytokine production in healthy relatives did not correlate with the presence of islet cell antibodies or with HLA DR type. These data indicate that healthy family members of patients with IDDM exhibit overproduction of a number of cytokines that have been implicated in diabetogenesis.

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