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Autoimmunity. 2007 Mar;40(2):108-16.

Changes in expression of P2X7 receptors in NOD mouse pancreas during the development of diabetes.

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Autonomic Neuroscience Centre, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Rowland Hill Street, London, UK.


This study examined the expression of P2X7 receptors in pancreatic islets of the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of human autoimmune insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, to determine whether they are involved in islet cell destruction during early- and late-developing diabetes. Pancreatic cells containing glucagon (alpha-cells), insulin (beta-cells) and somatostatin (delta-cells) were co-localized with P2X7 receptors. We examined P2X7 receptor expression in normal and diabetic spleens using flow cytometry. In non-diabetic NOD controls, P2X7 receptors were expressed in glucagon-containing cells at the periphery of islets, being consistent with previous studies. In early NOD diabetes (12 weeks), there was migration of peripheral P2X7 receptor positive, glucagon-containing cells into the center of islets. In late NOD diabetes (34 weeks), P2X7 receptor- and glucagon-stained alpha-cells were gone from islets. Migration of macrophages and dendritic cells into islets took place, but they lacked P2X7 immunoreactivity. There was no significant difference in the percentage of splenic macrophages stained for P2X7 receptors from control and diabetic spleens. In conclusion, in the development of early to late diabetes, there is a down-regulation of P2X7 receptors on islet cells and a loss of alpha- and beta-cell populations. P2X7 receptor signalling might be involved in alpha-cell clearance from late diabetic islets.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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