The effector mechanisms responsible for autoimmune β cell destruction in insulin dependent (type 1) diabetes (IDD) remain elusive. In order to investigate whether T lymphocytes bearing the gamma-delta T cell receptor (γδ+ T cells) could be involved in this process, we measured percentages of peripheral blood γδ+ T cells in IDD patients, relatives of IDD probands and controls. High levels of γδ+ T cells strongly differentiated 23 relatives at high risk for IDD on the basis of positive islet cell autoantibodies (ICA positive relatives) from 59 controls (P = 0.0013), whereas 26 ICA negative relatives, 14 recent-onset and nine long term IDD patients could not be distinguished from controls on the basis of percentages of γδ+ T cells. These data suggest that increased levels of circulating γδ+ T cells correlate with the ongoing autoimmune process in pancreatic islets of subjects at high risk for IDD and may thus represent an additional marker for the development of the disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy