What Triggers Type 1 Diabetes

Study sheds light on autoimmune response in blood sugar disease

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TUESDAY, Feb. 3, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A study by King's College London researchers may lead to a better understanding of the autoimmune response in people with type 1 diabetes.

For more than 25 years, scientists have been trying to identify an environmental agent or event that triggers immune-mediated destruction of insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells, which results in type 1 diabetes.

Previous studies suggested that T-cells that react to islet beta cells may contribute to this autoimmune response and may also be a factor in self-tolerance in healthy people. But this line of research has been hampered by inadequate technology and the rarity of these cells.

In this new study, the King's College London researchers suggest a mechanism for the specificity of this immune regulation. The researchers say it may explain why the same peptides present on pancreatic b cells that activate T-cells in people with type 1 diabetes and healthy people cause an autoimmune response in people with diabetes.

The study appears in the Feb. 2 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

More information

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SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, news release, Feb. 2, 2004

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