CD8+ T-Cell Responses Identify β-Cell Autoimmunity in Human Type 1 Diabetes

  1. Roberto Mallone12,
  2. Emanuela Martinuzzi12,
  3. Philippe Blancou34,
  4. Giulia Novelli5,
  5. Georgia Afonso12,
  6. Manuel Dolz,
  7. Graziella Bruno5,
  8. Lucy Chaillous,
  9. Lucienne Chatenoud12,
  10. Jean-Marie Bach34 and
  11. Peter van Endert12
  1. 1INSERM, U580, Paris, France
  2. 2Université Paris Descartes, Faculté de Médecine René Descartes, Paris, France
  3. 3INRA, Immuno-Endocrinology Unit, ENVN, Nantes, France; the Université de Nantes, Nantes, France
  4. 4Università di Torino, Department of Internal Medicine, Torino, Italy
  5. 5CHU de Nantes, Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu, Clinique d’Endocrinologie, Nantes, France
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Roberto Mallone or Peter van Endert, INSERM U580, Hôpital Necker, 161 rue de Sèvres, 75743 Paris Cedex 15, France. E-mail: mallone{at} or vanendert{at}


Despite the understanding that type 1 diabetes pathogenesis is mediated by T-cells, detection of these rare lymphocytes remains largely elusive. Suitable T-cell assays are highly needed, since they could offer preclinical diagnoses and immune surrogate end points for clinical trials. Although CD4+ T-cell assays have met with limited success, CD8+ T-cells are increasingly recognized as key actors in the diabetes of the NOD mouse. CD8+ T-cells are likely to play a role also in humans and may provide new markers of β-cell autoimmunity. Taking advantage of a panel of HLA-A2–restricted β-cell epitopes derived from preproinsulin, GAD, and islet glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit-related protein (IGRP), we have implemented an islet-specific CD8+ T-cell interferon-γ enzyme-linked immunospot (ISL8Spot) assay. The ISL8Spot assay is capable of detecting and quantifying β-cell–reactive CD8+ T-cells directly ex vivo, without any preliminary expansion, using either fresh or frozen samples. Positive ISL8Spot responses separate new-onset diabetic and healthy samples with high accuracy (86% sensitivity, 91% specificity), using as few as five immunodominant epitopes. Moreover, sensitivity reaches 100% when the ISL8Spot assay is complemented by antibody determinations. Combination of CD8+ T-cell measurements with immune intervention strategies may open new avenues toward type 1 diabetes prediction and prevention.


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    • Accepted November 27, 2006.
    • Received October 6, 2006.
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