HLA-DQ-Regulated T-Cell Responses to Islet Cell Autoantigens Insulin and GAD65

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HLA-DQ is strongly associated with genetic predisposition to type 1 diabetes. It is assumed that HLA-DQ molecules exert their effects on the disease via the presentation of peptides from islet autoantigens to CD4+ T-cells, but little information regarding HLA-DQ-restricted, islet antigen-specific, autoreactive T-cells is available. To investigate the role of HLA-DQ in the immune response to islet autoantigens, we measured T-cell proliferation to insulin and GAD65 in the presence and absence of monoclonal antibodies that block HLA-DQ-mediated antigen presentation in recent-onset type 1 diabetic patients and their siblings. Positive proliferative T-cell responses to GAD65 were observed in 60% of type 1 diabetic patients and 52% of siblings. This proliferation was significantly reduced in the presence of anti-DQ antibody, demonstrating the presence of primed, effector HLA-DQ-restricted T-cell responses to GAD65. Positive proliferative responses to insulin were observed in 25% of type 1 diabetic patients and 10% of siblings. However, blocking HLA-DQ-restricted T-cell responses led to a significant increase in proliferation to insulin, implying the presence of primed suppressive HLA-DQ-restricted T-cell responses to insulin. These results indicate that HLA-DQ acts as a restriction element for both proliferative and suppressor cells, with the relative balance of these cells dependent on the nature of the autoantigen.

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