Specific HLA DQ and DR alleles have been associated with susceptibility to type 1 diabetes. HLA DQ8 and DQ2 have been shown to strongly predispose to disease and to be in linkage disequilibrium with at-risk DR4 and DR3 alleles, respectively. Inheritance of a mixed DR3/DR4 haplotype confers the greatest risk. A double transgenic mouse expressing both DR3 and DQ8 was generated to investigate potential major histocompatibility complex class II interactions. The DR3/DQ8 transgenic mice developed a spontaneous loss of tolerance to GAD65, in which the T-cell response to GAD65 was restricted by HLA DR. Although the mice also showed spontaneous insulitis, they did not progress to overt diabetes. Mice expressing either transgene (DQ8 or DR3) alone showed mild infiltration of their islets, which disappeared when DQ8 or DR3 was co-expressed with a resistant DR2 allele or the neutral DQ6 allele. Therefore, in a fashion analogous to human diabetes, the murine model demonstrated a requirement for a combination of at-risk DR and DQ allotypes for the initiation of spontaneous autoimmunity.

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