Nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice spontaneously develop an acute onset of hyperglycemia reminiscent of human type I diabetes. The disease is the end result of a mononuclear cell infiltration of pancreatic islets (insulitis), culminating in the selective destruction of islet β-Cells by autoreactive T-cells. NOD mice also exhibit defects in B-cell tolerance as manifested by the presence of autoantibodies against islet cell autoantigens. Based on the potential ability of B-cells to act as antigen presenting cells, we hypothesized that autoreactive B-cells of NOD mice may be necessary for the activation of islet reactive CD4+ T-cells. In the present study, we utilized an anti–μ antibody to induce in vivo depletion of B-cells and found that B-cell depletion completely abrogates the development of insulitis and sialitis in NOD mice. In contrast, control IgG-treated NOD mice developed insulitis and sialitis by 5 weeks of age. Additionally, the discontinuation of anti–μ chain antibody treatment led to the full restoration of the B-cellpool and the reappearance of insulitis and sialitis. Thus, we conclude that B-cells are a requisite cell population for the genesis of the inflammatory lesions of the islets of Langerhans. This finding suggests that autoreactive B-cells may act as the antigen presenting cells necessary for the initial activation of β-cell-reactive CD4+ T-cells implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diabetes.
- Received November 6, 1996.
- Revision received February 7, 1997.
- Accepted February 7, 1997.
- Copyright © 1997 by the American Diabetes Association