Expansion of Regulatory T-Cells in Infants of Mothers with T1D

Reduced risk for T1D has been reported in the offspring of mothers with T1D when compared with children of affected fathers. In order to evaluate whether exposure of a fetus to maternal insulin therapy induces immune regulatory mechanisms, the authors compared levels of regulatory T cells in the chord blood of infants born to mothers with or without T1D. They analyzed chord-blood cells from 20 infants with maternal T1D and from 20 with an unaffected mother by counting numbers of T cells as well as after stimulation with insulin in a lab test. The authors also tested for certain regulatory T cell specific molecules in the cells that they isolated. Results showed the percentage of Treg cells to be higher in the chord blood of infants with maternal T1D via both tests.

Luopajärvi K, Nieminen JK, Ilonen J, Akerblom HK, Knip M, Vaarala O. Expansion of CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ regulatory T cells in infants of mothers with type 1 diabetes. Pediatric Diabetes. February 15, 2012 . Epub ahead of print.

Investigators and Institutions:
This study was led by Dr. Outi Vaarala and Dr. Mikael Knip at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

Ramifications for Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes:
The findings of this study suggests that maternal insulin treatment during pregnancy induces expansion of regulatory T cells in the fetus, which might contribute to the lower risk of diabetes in children with mothers who have T1D versus fathers.

JDRF Involvement:
This work was conducted as a TRIGR ancillary study and funded by the National Institute of Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland. JDRF previously provided direct support for the TRIGR study.