The temporal association between γδ t cells and the natural history of insulin-dependent diabetes

François P. Lang, Brad H. Pollock, William J. Riley, Noel K. Maclaren, Douglas J. Barrett

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21 Scopus citations


We previously reported a significant increase in percentages of peripheral blood γδ+ T cells in islet cell antibody (ICA) positive relatives of patients with insulin-dependent diabetes (IDD). In the present study, we further characterized this T cell abnormality in a larger group of ICA+ subjects and report that (1) Percentages of γδ+ T lymphocytes were significantly increased only in subjects with high ICA titers (≥ 20 JDF units) (P = 0.005) and resulted from an increase in absolute numbers of γδ+ T lymphocytes. (2) In these subjects, the increase in γδ+ T lymphocytes was associated with an increase in the Vγ9, Vδ2 subpopulation (r = 0.99). (3) In these same subjects, high percentages of γδ+ T lymphocytes were associated with normal β cell function while low percentages were associated with diminished insulin response. Using 65 μU/ml as the threshold of abnormal intravenous glucose tolerance test (IVGTT) response, percentages of γδ+ T lymphocytes could significantly predict IVGTT status in these subjects (P < 0.01). A longitudinal follow-up further suggested that the development of an abnormal IVGTT response and progression to diabetes was associated with a decrease in percentages of γδ+ T lymphocytes while patients whose γδ+ T cell percentages remained high retained normal β cell function. Our data therefore suggest that γδ+ T lymphocytes and more specifically Vγ9, Vδ2 T cells are implicated in the autoimmune process leading to diabetes and may have a regulatory role. The monitoring of their percentages in the blood of patients at risk for diabetes may be useful as an additional predictor of diabetes development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-119
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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