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ItemThe development and regulation of islet-specific T cells in an experimental model of autoimmune diabetesChee, Hui En Jonathan ( 2014)Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease. T cells specific for β-cell antigens such as proinsulin and islet-specific glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit related protein (IGRP) are important in mediating the disease. The aims of this thesis were to study the development and regulation of T cells in the development of autoimmune diabetes in the non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse model. Chapter 2 describes the development of IGRP-specific CD8+ T cells in autoimmune diabetes. IGRP-specific T cells in the mouse were tracked using a sensitive MHC-tetramer based magnetic enrichment. There was an increase in the number of IGRP-specific T cells in the peripheral blood and lymphoid tissue as mice age, and the increase correlated with insulitis progression. These cells had an effector-memory phenotype, which was only acquired in the inflammatory environment of the islets, and not the draining lymph nodes. Islet-specific T cells could also migrate from islets into the periphery. In the development of autoimmune diabetes, important changes to IGRP-specific T cells during the pathogenesis of diabetes occur not in the draining lymph nodes but in the islets, where they expand and differentiate into effector-memory T cells, and emigrate to the periphery, where they can report progression of islet pathology. Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF) is an inflammatory cytokine that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diabetes. In chapter 3, we investigate the effects of TNF-TNFR1 signalling deficiency on the development of autoimmune diabetes, by using a NOD mouse deficient in TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1). TNFR1-/- islets grafted onto kidney capsule of diabetic mice were destroyed, showing that TNFR1 deficiency on β-cell did not confer protection against immune destruction. The specific effects of TNFR1 deficiency on the immune system of NOD mice were also examined. Adoptively transferred β-cell specific T cells proliferated normally in the pancreatic lymph nodes, but failed to migrate into the pancreas of TNFR1-/- recipient mice. Notably, analysis of immune cell subsets by flow cytometry showed an increased percentage of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ T regulatory cells in TNFR1 deficient mice. Depletion of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells using GK1.5 CD4 depleting mAb restored diabetes in NOD8.3/TNFR1-/- mice. These results suggest that blockade of TNF signalling suppresses diabetes by increasing regulatory functions of the immune system. T cell responses to insulin (INS) are crucial in development of T1D. Chapter 4 of the thesis examines insulin-specific T cells in NOD mice, and in NOD mice tolerant to proinsulin II (NODPI), which do not develop diabetes or insulitis. There was no significant difference in the absolute number of insulin-specific CD8+ T-cells in NOD and NODPI mice. INS-specific CD8+ T-cells in NOD mice expanded significantly more in response to stimulation by peptide compared to NODPI. In vivo cytotoxic activity in NODPI was reduced compared to NOD. The absolute number of INS-specific CD4+ T-cells in NOD and NODPI mice was similar. The proportion of regulatory INS-specific CD4+ T cells that were Foxp3+ was also similar. INS-specific CD4+ T cells in the NOD and NODPI were tested on whether they could help CD8+ T-cells mediate diabetes. NODRAG1-/-/8.3 developed diabetes rapidly after NOD CD4+ T-cells were transferred (median=32days). 7/8 of recipients did not develop diabetes when NODPI CD4+ T-cells were transferred. In a NOD mouse tolerant to proinsulin, insulin-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells were detected, suggesting that the main mechanism of tolerance is not deletion. It is more likely that these cells could have impaired function.