Aims/hypotheses: Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus results from T-cell-mediated autoimmune destruction of pancreatic beta cells. Among the beta-cell autoantigens that have been implicated in triggering of beta-cell-specific autoimmunity, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) is a strong candidate in both humans and the NOD mouse. We aimed to determine whether treatment with a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing GAD (rVV-GAD65) could prevent the development of diabetes in NOD mice.
Methods: Three-eight-to-nine-week-old female NOD mice were injected with various doses of rVV-GAD65 or rVV-MJ601as a control. We then examined the incidence of diabetes, T-cell proliferative response to GAD, amounts of anti-GAD IgGs, cytokine production and generation of regulatory cell populations.
Results: Administration of rVV-GAD65 to NOD mice prevented diabetes in an age-dependent and dose-dependent manner. Splenic T cells from rVV-GAD65-treated mice did not proliferate in response to GAD65. The amount of IgG1 was increased, whereas IgG2a amounts did not change in rVV-GAD65-treated NOD mice. The production of interleukin-4 increased, whereas the production of interferon-gamma decreased in rVV-GAD65-treated mice after stimulation with GAD. Furthermore, splenocytes from rVV-GAD65-treated NOD mice prevented the transfer of diabetes by splenocytes from acutely diabetic NOD mice in NOD. scid recipients.
Conclusion/interpretation: Immunogene therapy using a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing GAD results in the prevention of autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice by the induction of immunological tolerance through active suppression of effector T cells, and this treatment might have therapeutic value for the prevention of Type I diabetes.