A study of spontaneous anti-insulin autoantibodies in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice revealed that when first detected, the antibodies are immunoglobulin M (IgM), but by age 10 weeks, immunoglobulin G (IgG) autoantibodies have appeared in many of these animals. When NOD strains, partially or completely protected from IDDM by the insertion of transgenes in the class II region, were compared, it was found that the switch to IgG autoantibodies was inhibited and the autoantibodies remained IgM indefinitely. We speculate that the switch to IgG may be a marker of events leading to IDDM in NOD mice and an indication that T-cell help has been generated for responses to β-cell antigens. Such help not only directs the development of IgG autoantibodies, but more importantly, allows the emergence of potentially pathogenic T-cell clones that are capable of infiltrating the pancreas and mediating β-cell damage.

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