Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease of unknown etiology. Our previous work has shown that a factor present in serum from type 1 diabetic patients causes increased Ca2+ channel activity and apoptotic DNA fragmentation in pancreatic beta-cells. Here we examined the effects of type 1 diabetic serum on primary cerebellar granule cells (CGCs). In CGCs, exposure to type 1 diabetic serum did not cause increased apoptosis or changes in Ca2+ channel activity. However, patient serum did cause modulation of Ca2+ signals in a cell type with triangular soma that exhibited low voltage-gated Ca2+ currents. This cell was present primarily in cultures exposed to type 1 diabetic serum. The presence of low voltage-gated Ca2+ currents and long neuronal dendrites indicated that this unique cell was of neuronal origin and not of glial origin.

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