New findings help resolve a long-standing debate in immunology over what type of cells are behind the progression of type-1 diabetes: attacker or protector cells. Scientists found that linkurl:autoimmune;http://www.the-scientist.com/supplement/2007-5-1/ destruction is likely due to a defect in levels of a cytokine within insulin-producing islets that reduce the numbers of protector cells. The research was published in today's online issue of linkurl:__Immunity.__;http://www.immunity.com/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS1074761308001908 IL-2 is a cytokine that paradoxically affects both the immune cells that protect the insulin producing beta-cells, the T regulatory (Tregs) cells, and the ones that attack them, the T-effector (Teff) cells. Some reports have shown that Treg numbers increased with diabetes onset, while other papers have shown a decrease in Treg numbers. After painstaking quantitative thin-section analysis in NOD mice, a model system for type 1 diabetes, researchers realized that numbers of Tregs were high in some areas and low in others. "You cannot find a defect in...
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