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AbstractThe strong genetic association between particular HLA alleles and type 1 diabetes (T1D) indicates a key role for CD4+ T cells in disease; however, the differentiation state of the responsible T cells is unclear. T cell differentiation originally was considered a dichotomy between Th1 and Th2 cells, with Th1 cells deemed culpable for autoimmune islet destruction. Now, multiple additional T cell differentiation fates are recognized with distinct roles. Here, we used a transgenic mouse model of diabetes to probe the gene expression profile of islet-specific T cells by microarray and identified a clear follicular helper T (Tfh) cell differentiation signature. Introduction of T cells with a Tfh cell phenotype from diabetic animals efficiently transferred diabetes to recipient animals. Furthermore, memory T cells from patients with T1D expressed elevated levels of Tfh cell markers, including CXCR5, ICOS, PDCD1, BCL6, and IL21. Defects in the IL-2 pathway are associated with T1D, and IL-2 inhibits Tfh cell differentiation in mice. Consistent with these previous observations, we found that IL-2 inhibited human Tfh cell differentiation and identified a relationship between IL-2 sensitivity in T cells from patients with T1D and acquisition of a Tfh cell phenotype. Together, these findings identify a Tfh cell signature in autoimmune diabetes and suggest that this population could be used as a biomarker and potentially targeted for T1D interventions.
CitationKenefeck, R., Wang, C. J., Kapadi, T., Wardzinski, L. Attridge, K. et. al. (2014) Follicular helper T cell signature in type 1 diabetes, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 125(1), pp. 292–303.
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
SponsorsThis work was funded by an MRC Senior Fellowship (to L.S.K. Walker), a project grant from JDRF (to L.S.K. Walker and P. Narendran), and a studentship from Diabetes UK (to L.S.K. Walker and P. Narendran). L. Wardzinski and A. Kogimtzis were supported by a Wellcome Trust project grant (to L.S.K. Walker). M. Ono is a BBSRC David Philips fellow.
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