The nonobese diabetic mouse in a model of spontaneous development of autoimmune type I diabetes. The disease can be induced in young, irradiated recipients by injecting splenic T-cells from diabetic donors. The adoptive transfer of diabetes requires the presence of both CD4+ and CD8+ splenic T-cell subsets. To test whether diabetogenic cells distribute in other lymphoid organs of diabetic mice, we first analyzed lymph node cells. Lymph node cells were much less efficient in transferring diabetes than splenocytes. This inefficacious transfer was not attributable to the absence of hematopoietic precursors or a lack of macrophages. Lymph node cells did not protect from the transfer of diabetes by splenocytes, indicating the absence of suppressor cells. Although CD8+ lymph node T-cells seemed functionally comparable to CD8+ splenocytes, CD4+ lymph node T-cells failed to cooperate with CD8+ splenocytes to transfer diabetes. Our study suggests that diabetogenic cells are not evenly distributed in the different lymphoid organs. This may reflect a differential migration pattern of pathogenic T-cells in this animal model.

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