Type IA or insulin dependent diabetes (T1D) results from of an autoimmune process that destroys insulin producing beta cells in the pancreatic islets. Although T lymphocytes are known to mediate the disease, we find that a large proportion of the invading cells are B lymphocytes. Recent success with B cell directed therapy in other T cell-mediated disorders has led to the recognition that B cells are more important in these diseases than previously thought. Accordingly, the goal of this project is to understand the functions of B lymphocytes that catalyze T cell interactions and promote autoimmune beta cell destruction leading to type 1 diabetes (T1D). To understand the actions of B cells in T1D, we introduced immunoglobulin (Ig) transgenes (Tg) from an insulin autoantibody (mAb125) into NOD mice and generated B cell repertoires that are skewed toward this critical islet antigen. Importantly, we discovered that anti-insulin B cells are maintained in a tolerant state in NOD mice, but despite this tolerance, anti-insulin B cells preserve B-T cell interactions that are essential for T1D. In addition, we used VH125Tg NOD mice that harbor only an H-chain Tg (VH125) to generate a polyclonal repertoire in which only a small fraction of B cells bind insulin. Unexpectedly, these polyclonal VH125Tg NOD B cells undergo expansion in the pancreas, and their autoimmune response spreads to antigens other than insulin. These findings suggest that 1) anti-insulin B cells are retained in the repertoire in a novel state of tolerance that preserves antigen presenting functions and induces the expansion of autoaggressive T cells;and 2) novel autoantigens in the pancreatic islets mediate B cell selection within the islet lesions, amplifying the risk of disease by promoting autoantigen spread. We will test these hypotheses in three aims. First, receptor structures on invading VH125Tg B cells will be used to identify the antigens that are driving the islet attack. Second, signaling pathways that maintain antigen presenting functions in tolerant B cells will be identified and we will use this information to block critical B-T cell interactions.
A third aim will directly test the potential for tolerant B cells to drive T cell mediated insulitis and diabetes in an antigen specific model of T1D.Project Narrative This project has direct clinical relevance for the management of type 1 diabetes;it will 1) improve diagnosis by identifying new target antigens;2) develop strategies to block presentation of islet antigens to T cells in T1D, and 3) facilitate therapy targeted at B lymphocytes in T1D.
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