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Diabetes. 2006 Nov;55(11):3068-74.

Recognition of HLA class I-restricted beta-cell epitopes in type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Child and Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia and British Columbia Children's Hospital, 4480 Oak St., Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 3V4, Canada.


Type 1 diabetes results from the autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs). In humans, few beta-cell epitopes have been reported, thereby limiting the study of beta-cell-specific CTLs in type 1 diabetes. To identify additional epitopes, HLA class I peptide affinity algorithms were used to identify a panel of peptides derived from the beta-cell proteins islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP), islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein (IGRP), insulin, insulinoma-associated antigen 2 (IA-2), and phogrin that were predicted to bind HLA-A*0201. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 24 HLA-A*0201 recent-onset type 1 diabetic patients and 11 nondiabetic control subjects were evaluated for gamma-interferon secretion in response to peptide stimulation in enzyme-linked immunospot assays. We identified peptides IAPP9-17, IGRP215-223, IGRP152-160, islet IA-2(172-180), and IA-2(482-490) as novel HLA-A*0201-restricted T-cell epitopes in type 1 diabetic patients. Interestingly, we observed a strong inverse correlation between the binding affinity of beta-cell peptides to HLA-A*0201 and CTL responses against those peptides in recent-onset type 1 diabetic patients. In addition, we found that self-reactive CTLs with specificity for an insulin peptide are frequently present in healthy individuals. These data suggest that many beta-cell epitopes are recognized by CTLs in recent-onset type 1 diabetic patients. These epitopes may be important in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes.

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