Several cytotoxic mechanisms have been attributed to T cells participating in β-cell death in type 1 diabetes. However, sensitivity of β-cells to these mechanisms in vitro and in vivo is likely to be different. Moreover, CD4+ and CD8+ T cells may use distinct mechanisms to cause β-cell demise that possibly involve activation of third-party cytotoxic cells. We used the transfer of genetically modified diabetogenic T cells into normal, mutant, and bone marrow chimeric recipients to test the contribution of major cytotoxic mechanisms in β-cell death. We found that 1) the killing of β-cells by CD4+ T cells required activation of the recipient’s own cytotoxic cells via tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α); 2) CD8+ T-cell cytotoxic mechanisms destroying β-cells were limited to perforin and Fas ligand, as double knockouts of these molecules abrogated the ability of T cells to cause diabetes; and 3) individual CD8+ T-cell clones chose their cytotoxic weaponry by a yet unknown mechanism and destroyed their targets via either Fas-independent or Fas-dependent (∼40% of clones) pathways. Fas-dependent destruction was assisted by TNF-α.
This article contains Supplementary Data online at http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.2337/db11-1784/-/DC1.
- Received December 21, 2011.
- Accepted May 1, 2012.
- © 2012 by the American Diabetes Association.
Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ for details.