Research ArticleAUTOIMMUNITY

Islet-reactive CD8+ T cell frequencies in the pancreas, but not in blood, distinguish type 1 diabetic patients from healthy donors

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Science Immunology  02 Feb 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 20, eaao4013
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aao4013

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At home in the pancreas

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is associated with enrichment of autoreactive CD8+ T cells that target destruction of pancreatic islets. Culina et al. studied islet-reactive CD8+ T cells reactive to the zinc transporter 8186–194 (ZnT8186–194) and other islet epitopes in healthy individuals and T1D patients, which showed similar functionality and similar frequencies and naïve phenotypes in the peripheral circulation across both groups. In contrast, ZnT8186–194-reactive CD8+ T cells were enriched in the pancreas of T1D patients relative to healthy controls and showed cross-reactivity to an epitope from the commensal Bacteroides stercoris. These results indicate that incomplete central tolerance may allow the survival of these islet-reactive CD8+ T cells in the periphery, and that proinflammatory conditions in the islets can contribute to T1D progression.