Deficient Immune System Regulators Cause Type 1 Diabetes

The immune system protects us against billions of bacteria, viruses, and other parasites. Most of us never reflect upon the fact that while we are busy with our lives, our immune system is constantly on the alert inside our body, attacking harmful organisms at the first sign. It is very complex. It’s made up of several types of cells and proteins that are designed to perform various jobs.

Dr. Ciriaco Piccirillo, a researcher in the ‘Department of Microbiology and Immunology’ and the principal investigator, said that the CD4+Treg cells, the main regulators of the immune system, play a significant role in a large range of immune diseases. The gradual reduction in their regulating capacity seems to play a critical role in the onset of type 1diabetes.

It is important for the immune system to regulate properly so that only the site of an inflammation is attacked and it fights against the disease causing agents rather than the body issues, causing an autoimmune disease. In a normal healthy body, CD4+Treg cells deactivate any T lymphocytes, a type of immune cell, that are misprogramed and could attack the body.

The study indicates that in type 1 diabetic patients this control mechanism is malfunctioned, and the wrongly programmed T lymphocytes multiply faster to become capable enough to destroy the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, which leads to ‘type-1 diabetes’.

“We have been able to demonstrate this in mice with type 1 diabetes, and other genetic studies have shown that this same mechanism is applicable to humans,” said Dr. Piccirillo at the McGill University.

The dominating role of ‘nTreg-cells’ leads to a belief about their involvement in the other autoimmune pathologies. Since this common denominator among diseases that were previously thought to be unrelated has now been uncovered it will further pave the way and will create promising avenue for future study, he added.

Although ‘D4+Treg cells’ mechanism has not yet been completely unravelled, the researchers generally accept that this mechanism is of crucial importance to the entire immune system.

So the role of CD4+Treg cells has encouraged the scientists all over the world to invest more research in order to develop innovative cellular therapies that could restore immune stability in patients.

“The eventual hope is to treat the cause of type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune diseases and not just their symptoms, as we do today,” Dr .Piccirillo said. Findings of this research study have also been published in the January issue of the journal “Diabetes”.

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