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Cytokine May Play Key Role in Triggering Type 1 Diabetes

In vitro study shows how interleukin-1 induces beta-cell necrosis

FRIDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Type 1 diabetes may be kick-started by cytokine-induced necrosis of beta-cells in the pancreas, according to a study published online Dec. 20 in the open access journal Public Library of Science Medicine.

John A. Corbett, Ph.D., of St. Louis University in Missouri, and colleagues studied the in vitro effects of interleukin-1 (IL-1) and known activators of apoptosis on beta-cell viability in rat and human islets.

The researchers found that IL-1 induced beta-cell necrosis and the release of beta-cell antigens. IL-1-treated beta-cells also released immunological adjuvant high mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1), a marker of necrosis. The researchers say their results support the hypothesis that macrophage-derived cytokines, such as IL-1, may participate in the initial stages of diabetes development.

"Although these findings need to be confirmed within the context of the human pancreas -- what cells do in vitro may not reflect what happens in the body -- they provide new insights into the early stages of type 1 diabetes that could suggest ways to prevent or stop its development," states the author of an accompanying editorial.

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