Nerve growth factor (NGF) and transforming growth factor-beta2 (TGF-beta2) are cytokines which have known immunological effects. An elevated level of NGF has been reported in certain autoimmune diseases, whereas TGF-beta2 is an immunosuppressor which is known to play a role in regulating cell proliferation. A role of this cytokine has been proposed in the pathogenesis of type-1 diabetes mellitus (IDDM), but no clinical studies have yet measured its serum level in this disease. In this study we measured the levels of NGF and TGF-beta2 in the sera of patients with IDDM (n = 26) and values were compared to those of age-matched normal subjects (n = 27) and also to patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) (n = 26) with similar HbA1c levels and an equal duration of diabetes. Serum NGF levels were significantly elevated in IDDM patients compared to those of age-matched controls (p <.001) and NIDDM controls (p <.01). TGF-beta2 levels were lower in IDDM patients when compared with the healthy control (p <.001) and the NIDDM control (p <.05). There was no correlation between the levels of NGF and TGF-beta2. The duration of diabetes and the level of HbA1c did not affect the NGF and TGF-beta2 levels in the IDDM patients. We conclude that an increase in NGF and a suppression in TGF-beta2 levels are present in patients with type-1 diabetes mellitus and that both cytokines may play independent roles in the pathogenesis of this disease.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.