Two groups from the Centre de recherche de l’Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont led by Dr. Heather Melichar and Dr. Sylvie Lesage, in collaboration with Dr. Colin Anderson from the University of Alberta, have made a surprising discovery. The results have just been published in the journal Immunology & Cell Biology.
As part of their studies of why white blood cells destroy the pancreas and thus cause diabetes, they came to these unexpected conclusions. The main white blood cells involved in the pathology of type 1 diabetes are T lymphocytes. Until then, it was assumed that mice or humans who developed type 1 diabetes had more highly reactive T lymphocytes than those who did not. In fact, the results of their research project revealed the opposite! There would be more weakly autoreactive cells and these would therefore promote the development of autoimmune diseases such as diabetes.
These new published results enrich knowledge and open up new avenues for research and development of innovative therapeutic approaches to prevent diabetes as well as autoimmune diseases.
White blood cells and diabetes
The immune system is made up of several types of white blood cells to help us fight infections and prevent cancer. However, on occasion, the immune system attacks our own organs. This is the case with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, where white blood cells in the immune system destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and thus prevent it from lowering blood glucose levels.