, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 291-297

Treatment of type 1 diabetes with anti-T-cell agents: From T-cell depletion to T-cell regulation

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Studies in animal models of type 1 diabetes had suggested that the disease was due to an immune-mediated destruction of insulin-producing cells. As this understanding was developed, clinical trials that were directed against T cells were begun, because these lymphocytes were thought to be the primary mediators of disease. Initial studies used broad-spectrum agents and showed general efficacy in either preventing the loss of insulin secretion or reducing the need for exogenous insulin. Although encouraging, the enthusiasm for this approach waned due to the lack of long-term effects and toxicities. These studies were followed by trials with more specific agents, but the issue of toxicity remained. Newer agents, such as anti-CD3 antibody, are also targeted against T cells but the toxicity and efficacy of modified anti-CD3 antibody, for example, appears to be improved over previously tested agents. In addition, our understanding of the immunologic effects of anti-T-cell agents has evolved. Data now suggest that efficacy and duration of the effects of anti-T-cell drugs can be enhanced when the agents provoke immune modulation rather than depletion of effector cells.