Interleukin-7 and Type 1 Diabetes


Antigen-experienced T-cells directly target and destroy insulin-producing beta cells in patients with Type 1 diabetes. Consequently, T-cells are also major targets of immunomodulatory strategies that aim to prevent or delay the immune mediated loss of islet beta-cell function. These strategies have had modest success, prompting efforts into better defining the mechanisms that drive the differentiation of quiescent autoreactive clones into pathogenic effector and memory T-cells. Recent and novel findings now indicate that in addition to the classic mechanisms of antigenic recognition, autoreactive T-cell differentiation and expansion can be boosted by the homeostatic cytokine interleukin-7. In this article, we discuss recent evidence of the role of IL-7 mediated T-cell proliferation in the pathogenesis of Type 1 diabetes and the rationale for including immunomodulatory molecules targeting the IL-7/IL-7R axis in immunotherapeutic strategies to control beta-cell autoimmunity.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Paolo Monti and Ezio Bonifacio declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Paolo Monti.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Pathogenesis of Type 1 Diabetes

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Monti, P., Bonifacio, E. Interleukin-7 and Type 1 Diabetes. Curr Diab Rep 14, 518 (2014).

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  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Interleukin-7
  • IL-7
  • IL-7 receptor
  • Soluble IL-7Rα
  • sCD127
  • Homeostatic proliferation
  • T-cells