In a number of animal models of spontaneous autoimmune diabetes, pathogenesis has been highly correlated with autoreactive T-cell production of the type 1 cytokine interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), while protection from disease was associated with type 2 cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-4. Curiously, in some models, diabetes is associated with unexpected cytokine patterns; for example, diabetes can develop in NOD mice lacking a functional IFN-gamma gene. In another situation, acceleration of diabetes occurs in transgenic mice with constitutive beta-cell expression of the type 2 cytokine IL-10. IL-10 has generally been associated with immunosuppression, including the modulation of class II expression on antigen-presenting cells and the generation of regulatory CD4 T-cells. Because it is possible that unregulated expression of any cytokine might lead to unphysiological effects in vivo, we tested the notion that an inducible T-cell-specific IL-10 transgene might yet mediate a more physiological protection from autoimmune diabetes. Our results show that indeed, regulated T-cell production of IL-10 does not accelerate diabetes and instead can provide significant protection from disease. These results help rectify the apparent discrepancies between the effect of IL-10 on various models of autoimmune diabetes.

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