The role of T-cells in the pathogenesis of IDDM has been an area of much interest, and investigators have recently acquired new tools for studies on T-cells with the advent of T-cell clones that are reactive with islet antigens. Derived from NOD mice, diabetogenic T-cell lines and clones have for the most part been CD4+ and T-helper 1 (Th1)-like in their cytokine production. Some CD8+ cytotoxic clones have also been reported, although these have generally not transferred diabetes in the absence of CD4+ T-cells. The T-cell clones that have been described can also be separated on the basis of their antigen reactivity. While many of the T-cell lines and clones described react with islets, isolated islet cells, or islet membrane preparations, others have known antigen specificities, reacting with defined islet cell proteins such as insulin, GAD, and heat shock proteins. Particularly in the case of insulin-reactive clones, diabetogenicity has also been demonstrated. In light of the many possible T-cell reactivities that may arise from the islet lesion, the question of whether there is a dominant initiating antigen is a particularly intriguing one.

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