Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease where pancreatic β-cells are destroyed by islet-infiltrating T cells. Although a role for β-cell defects has been suspected, β-cell abnormalities are difficult to demonstrate. We show a β-cell DNA damage response (DDR), presented by activation of the 53BP1 protein and accumulation of p53, in biopsy and autopsy material from patients with recently diagnosed T1D as well as a rat model of human T1D. The β-cell DDR is more frequent in islets infiltrated by CD45+ immune cells, suggesting a link to islet inflammation. The β-cell toxin streptozotocin (STZ) elicits DDR in islets, both in vivo and ex vivo, and causes elevation of the proinflammatory molecules IL-1β and Cxcl10. β-Cell-specific inactivation of the master DNA repair gene ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) in STZ-treated mice decreases the expression of proinflammatory cytokines in islets and attenuates the development of hyperglycemia. Together, these data suggest that β-cell DDR is an early event in T1D, possibly contributing to autoimmunity.
© 2018 by the American Diabetes Association.