New immune cell subset associated with progression to type 1 diabetes

October 11, 2016

A study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland revealed that a recently described T cell subset may have a central role in the development of type 1 diabetes. These so called follicular T helper cells were found to be increased at the onset of type 1 diabetes, and the phenomenon was linked with the presence of autoantibodies commonly associated with the disease.

Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where the immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes typically manifests in childhood and early adolescence. Diabetes-associated autoantibodies are highly predictive of type 1 diabetes risk and they can be typically detected in the blood of patients even years before the onset of the disease.

T cells are that have an important role orchestrating the functions of the immune system. Follicular helper T cells are a recently described subset of T cells that have a central role in activating B cells, which in turn are responsible for producing antibodies.

Since the emergence of autoantibodies is a common feature of type 1 diabetes development, it is plausible that follicular T have a role in the disease process. This notion is also supported by evidence recently generated in the murine model of type 1 diabetes.

In a study led by Academy Research Fellow Tuure Kinnunen, samples from the Finnish DIPP follow-up study were used. In the DIPP study, children with an increased genetic risk for developing type 1 diabetes are longitudinally followed for the development of the disease. In the current study, the frequency of blood follicular T helper cells was observed to increase close to the onset of type 1 diabetes. Moreover, the phenomenon was only observed in a subgroup of children that were positive for multiple diabetes-associated autoantibodies. This finding suggests a connection between the activation of follicular helper T cells and the activation of autoantibody-producing B cells in type 1 diabetes.

Taken together, the current results support the idea that follicular helper T cells have a role in the development of type 1 diabetes. Immune therapies that target these cells can therefore be envisioned to have potential in the prevention of type 1 diabetes.

Explore further: More diabetes-associated, non-associated autoantibodies in T1D

More information: Circulating CXCR5+PD-1+ICOS+ Follicular T Helper Cells Are Increased Close to the Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes in Children with Multiple Autoantibodies. Diabetes 2016 Oct; dx.doi.org/10.2337/db16-0714

Related Stories

More diabetes-associated, non-associated autoantibodies in T1D

September 6, 2016
(HealthDay)—Patients with type 1 diabetes have more diabetes-associated autoantibodies (DAAs) and non-DAAs than patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published online Aug. 29 in Diabetes Care.

Solving a genetic mystery in type 1 diabetes

April 11, 2016
In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the body's own insulin-producing cells. Scientists understand reasonably well how this autoimmune attack progresses, but they don't understand what triggers the attack or how ...

How gut microbes may trigger type 1 diabetes

September 13, 2016
Research on the tiny microbes that live in our gut has yielded clues to understanding a growing number of medical conditions. A new Yale-led study explores the link between gut microbes and type 1 diabetes.

Early signs in young children predict type 1 diabetes

February 26, 2015
New research shows that it is possible to predict the development of type 1 diabetes. By measuring the presence of autoantibodies in the blood, it is possible to detect whether the immune system has begun to break down the ...

Risk of T1DM up in children with autoantibody reversion

June 21, 2016
(HealthDay)—The risk of type 1 diabetes remains elevated for children who have developed multiple β-cell autoantibodies, even after reversion of individual autoantibodies, according to a study published online June 16 ...

Researchers prevent type 1 diabetes in lab

January 20, 2015
In new research published in Endocrinology, Thomas Burris, Ph.D., chair of pharmacological and physiological science at Saint Louis University, reports that his team has found a way to prevent type I diabetes in an animal ...

Recommended for you

Pancreatic islets study may spur diabetes treatment advances

September 22, 2017
Investigators in the Vanderbilt Diabetes Research and Training Center (VDRTC) and collaborators at Stanford University have discovered new insights into the molecular mechanisms of cell proliferation in juvenile human pancreatic ...

Finding a natural defense against clogged arteries

September 20, 2017
In type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation drives cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among people with the condition. Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center now have identified an unexpected natural protective ...

Study identifies blood vessel as a therapeutic target for diabetes

September 14, 2017
Blood vessels have an often overlooked role of regulating the transfer of nutrients from the blood to organs in the body. In a new Yale-led study, researchers have identified a role of a secreted protein, apelin, in regulating ...

Drug for type 2 diabetes provides significant benefits to type 1 diabetic patients

September 14, 2017
A majority of patients with Type 1 diabetes who were treated with dapagliflozin, a Type 2 diabetes medicine, had a significant decline in their blood sugar levels, according to a new study published in The Lancet Diabetes ...

Could swine flu be linked to type 1 diabetes?

September 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—Young people who've been infected with the H1N1 swine flu virus may be at increased risk for type 1 diabetes, a new study suggests.

Epigenetic 'fingerprint' identifies diabetes risk

September 14, 2017
Deakin researchers have identified an epigenetic marker that predicts risk of type 2 diabetes in women with gestational diabetes.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.