Apportioning Blame: Autoreactive CD4+ and CD8+ T Cells in Type 1 Diabetes

  • Rubén Varela-Calvino
  • Cristina Calviño-Sampedro
  • Iria Gómez-Touriño
  • Oscar J. Cordero


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is one of the most studied archetypal organ-specific autoimmune diseases. Although many clinical, epidemiological, and pathological characteristics have been described, there are still important issues which need to be resolved as these will have a major impact on the development of future antigen-specific immunotherapies. An important question relates to T lymphocytes in the development of the disease, in particular their role in the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. Since the discovery that certain class II histocompatibility complex molecules (HLA) are linked to the development of T1D, much research has focused on CD4+ helper T lymphocytes; however, recent studies highlight class I HLA molecules as an independent risk factor; hence, research into the role played by CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes has gained momentum. In this review, we summarize recent studies clarifying the role played by both sets of autoreactive T lymphocytes in T1D, discuss the targets recognized by these cells and their phenotype in T1D patients. Finally, we will examine the possible generation of regulatory CD8+ T lymphocytes upon different immuno-intervention strategies.


Type 1 diabetes T lymphocytes Autoantigens CD8 Regulatory T cells 


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Copyright information

© L. Hirszfeld Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy, Wroclaw, Poland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departmento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Facultad de FarmaciaUniversidad de Santiago de CompostelaSantiagoSpain
  2. 2.Department of Immunobiology, Guy’s HospitalKing’s CollegeLondonUK

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