Type 1 diabetes is characterized by autoimmune destruction of pancreatic beta cells. The role played by autoantibodies directed against beta cells antigens in the pathogenesis of the disease is still unclear. Coxsackievirus B infection has been linked to the onset of type 1 diabetes; however its precise role has not been elucidated yet. To clarify these issues, we screened a random peptide library with sera obtained from 58 patients with recent onset type 1 diabetes, before insulin therapy. We identified an immunodominant peptide recognized by the majority of individual patients'sera, that shares homology with Coxsackievirus B4 VP1 protein and with beta-cell specific autoantigens such as phogrin, phosphofructokinase and voltage-gated L-type calcium channels known to regulate beta cell apoptosis. Antibodies against the peptide affinity-purified from patients' sera, recognized the viral protein and autoantigens; moreover, such antibodies induced apoptosis of the beta cells upon binding the L-type calcium channels expressed on the beta cell surface, suggesting a calcium dependent mechanism. Our results provide evidence that in autoimmune diabetes a subset of anti-Coxsackievirus antibodies are able to induce apoptosis of pancreatic beta cells which is considered the most critical and final step in the development of autoimmune diabetes without which clinical manifestations do not occur.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)