Decreased Synthesis of Interleukin-2 (IL-2) in Insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus

  1. Lester Baker
  1. Children's Cancer Research Center, Division of Allergy, Immunology and Bone Marrow Transplantation; and the Division of Endocrinology, Departments of Pediatrics and Human Genetics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  1. Address reprint requests to Dr. Karen Zler, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 34th and Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104.


Synthesis of interleukin-2 (IL-2) by lymphocytes from 26 insulin-dependent diabetic subjects (IDDM) was compared with that by lymphocytes from 24 nondiabetic control subjects. The control group produced 1.001 ± 0.071 U/ml (mean ± SEM). The IDDM group, containing patients diagnosed between 5 days and 10 yr before testing, produced only 0.59 ± 0.050 U/ml (P < 0.002). IL-2 synthesis by 6 non-insulin-dependent diabetic subjects (NIDDM) was not decreased (mean ± SEM, 1.20 ± 0.04 U/ml). Moreover, decreased levels of IL-2 production was found with lymphocytes of patients in good control, as well as those in poor control. These data suggest that decreased IL-2 synthesis is specific for IDDM, not explainable solely as a consequence of poor metabolic control, and thus, might be involved in the pathogenesis of the disease.

  • Received February 28, 1983.
  • Revision received November 15, 1983.
  • Accepted November 15, 1983.
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