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Type 1 diabetes is preceded by a period of asymptomatic autoimmunity characterised by positivity for islet autoantibodies. Therefore, T helper cell responses that induce B cell activation are likely to play a critical role in the disease process. Here, we aimed to evaluate the role of a recently described subset, C-X-C motif chemokine receptor type 5-negative, programmed cell death protein 1-positive (CXCR5−PD-1hi) peripheral T helper (Tph) cells, in human type 1 diabetes.
The phenotype of blood CXCR5−PD-1hi CD4+ T cells was analysed by multicolour flow cytometry. The frequencies of circulating CXCR5−PD-1hi T cells were analysed in a cohort of 44 children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, 40 autoantibody-positive (AAb+) at-risk children and 84 autoantibody-negative healthy control children, and the findings were replicated in a separate cohort of 15 children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes and 15 healthy control children.
Circulating CXCR5−PD-1hi Tph cells share several features associated with B cell helper function with circulating CXCR5+PD-1hi follicular T helper (Tfh) cells. Moreover, the frequency of circulating Tph cells was increased in children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, especially in those who are positive for multiple autoantibodies. Importantly, circulating Tph cells were also increased in autoantibody-positive at-risk children who later progressed to type 1 diabetes.
Our results demonstrate that circulating CXCR5−PD-1hi Tph cells are associated with progression to clinical type 1 diabetes. Consequently, Tph cells could have potential both as a biomarker of disease progression and as a target for immunotherapy in type 1 diabetes.
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- Circulating CXCR5−PD-1hi peripheral T helper cells are associated with progression to type 1 diabetes
Deepak A. Rao
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
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