The genetic factors that contribute to the etiology of type 1 diabetes are still largely uncharacterized. However, the genes of the MHC (HLA in humans) have been consistently associated with susceptibility to disease. We have used several transgenic mice generated in our laboratory, bearing susceptible or resistant HLA alleles, in the absence of endogenous MHC class II (Aβo), to study immune responses to the autoantigen glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) 65 and its relevance in determining the association between autoreactivity and disease pathogenesis. Mice bearing diabetes-susceptible haplotypes, HLA DR3 (DRB1*0301) or DQ8 (DQB1*0302), singly or in combination showed spontaneous T cell reactivity to rat GAD 65, which is highly homologous to the self Ag, mouse GAD 65. The presence of diabetes-resistant or neutral alleles, such as HLA DQ6 (DQB1*0602) and DR2. (DRB1*1502) prevented the generation of any self-reactive responses to rat GAD. In addition, unmanipulated Aβo/DR3, Aβo/DQ8, and Aβo/DR3/DQ8 mice recognized specific peptides, mainly from the N-terminal region of the GAD 65 molecule. Most of these regions are conserved between human, mouse, and rat GAD 65. Further analysis revealed that the reactivity was mediated primarily by CD4+ T cells. Stimulation of these T cells by rat GAD 65 resulted in the generation of a mixed Th1/Th2 cytokine profile in the Aβo/DR3/DQ8, Aβo/DR3, and Aβo/DQ8 mice. Thus, the presence of diabetes-associated genes determines whether immune tolerance is maintained to islet autoantigens, but autoreactivity in itself is not sufficient to induce diabetes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy