In T1D, a subset of T cells, known as effector memory T cells, are thought to be responsible for perpetuating the immune response to pancreatic antigens. It may be possible to curtail the response of these cells and reign in the autoimmune response to T1D. In this research by Dr. Hans Dooms and colleagues, they blocked a marker on the surface of these T cells and were able to prevent and reverse autoimmune diabetes in a mouse model. This treatment approach also increased the balance towards protective T cells; cells involved in maintaining tolerance. These data suggest that this type of blockade may be a reasonable approach for treating established T1D.
Penaranda C, Kuswanto W, Hofmann J, Kenefeck R, Narendran P, Walker LS, Bluestone JA, Abbas AK, Dooms H. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jul 31;109(31):12668-73. Epub 2012 Jun 25. IL-7 receptor blockade reverses autoimmune diabetes by promoting inhibition of effector/memory T cells.
Investigators and Institutions:
This study was led by Dr. Hans Dooms, currently at Boston University School of Medicine.
Ramifications for Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes:
The investigators show that blockade of certain T cells may be a viable approach for treating established T1D in humans, as it effectively decreased destructive T cells and resulted in conditions favorable for tolerance in a mouse model of diabetes. However, this approach is not without risks, as it is a non-specific approach that could increase the susceptibility for infections. These non-specific therapeutic approaches are a current limitation for the use of these agents in T1D. However, it may be possible to combine this approach with an antigen-specific approach, which may increase its potency and reduce the risk of serious side-effects.
This study was funded through a JDRF grant to Dr. Hans Dooms.