Dynamics of pathogenic and suppressor T cells in autoimmune diabetes development

Silvia Gregori, Nadia Giarratana, Simona Smiroldo, Luciano Adorini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse, pathogenic and suppressor CD4 + T cells can be distinguished by the constitutive expression of CD25. In this study, we demonstrate that the progression of autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice reflects modifications in both T cell subsets. CD4+ CD25+ suppressor T cells from 8-, but not 16-wk-old NOD mice delayed the onset of diabetes transferred by 16-wk-old CD25-depleted spleen cells. These results were paralleled by the inhibition of alloantigen-induced proliferation of CD4+CD25- cells, indicating an age-dependent decrease in suppressive activity. In addition, CD4 +CD25- pathogenic T cells became progressively less sensitive to immunoregulation by CD4+CD25+ T cells during diabetes development. CD4+CD25- T cells showed a higher proliferation and produced more IFN-γ, but less IL-4 and IL-10, whereas CD4+CD25+ T suppressor cells produced significantly lower levels of IL-10 in 16- compared with 8-wk-old NOD mice. Consistent with these findings, a higher frequency of Th1 cells was observed in the pancreas of 16-wk-old compared with 8-wk-old NOD mice. An increased percentage of CD4 +CD25- T cells expressing CD54 was present in 16-wk-old and in diabetic NOD, but not in BALB/c mice. Costimulation via CD54 increased the proliferation of CD4+CD25- T cells from 16-, but not 8-wk-old NOD mice, and blocking CD54 prevented their proliferation, consistent with the role of CD54 in diabetes development. Thus, the pathogenesis of autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice is correlated with both an enhanced pathogenicity of CD4+CD25- T cells and a decreased suppressive activity of CD4+CD25+ T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4040-4047
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 15 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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