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Diabetes. 2006 Sep;55(9):2588-94.

Analysis of T-cell assays to measure autoimmune responses in subjects with type 1 diabetes: results of a blinded controlled study.

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  • 1Immune Teolerance Network, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease mediated by autoreactive T-cells. Several experimental therapies targeting T-cells are in clinical trials. To understand how these therapies affect T-cell responses in vivo, assays that directly measure human T-cell function are needed. In a blinded, multicenter, case-controlled study conducted by the Immune Tolerance Network, we tested responses in an immunoblot and T-cell proliferative assay to distinguish type 1 diabetic patients from healthy control subjects. Peripheral blood cells from 39 healthy control subjects selected for DR4 and 23 subjects with recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes were studied. Autoantibody responses were measured in serum samples. Positive responses in both assays were more common in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from new-onset type 1 diabetic patients compared with control subjects. The proliferative, immunoblot, and autoantibody assays had sensitivities of 58, 91, and 78% with specificities of 94, 83, and 85%, respectively. When cellular assays were combined with autoantibody measurements, the sensitivity of the measurements was 75% with 100% specificity. We conclude that cellular assays performed on peripheral blood have a high degree of accuracy in discriminating responses in subjects with type 1 diabetes from healthy control subjects. They may be useful for assessment of cellular autoimmune responses involved in type 1 diabetes.

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