Induction of type I diabetes by interferon-alpha in transgenic mice

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Science  25 Jun 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5116, pp. 1942-1946
DOI: 10.1126/science.8100367


Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease involving an interaction between an epigenetic event (possibly a viral infection), the pancreatic beta cells, and the immune system in a genetically susceptible host. The possibility that the type I interferons could mediate this interaction was tested with transgenic mice in which the insulin-producing beta cells expressed an interferon-alpha. These mice developed a hypoinsulinemic diabetes associated with a mixed inflammation centered on the islets. The inflammation and the diabetes were prevented with a neutralizing antibody to the interferon-alpha. Thus, the expression of interferon-alpha by the beta cells could be causal in the development of type I diabetes, which suggests a therapeutic approach to this disease.

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