Cytokines cause functional and structural damage to isolated islets of Langerhans

Allergy. 1985 Aug;40(6):424-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.1985.tb02681.x.


Cytokines are soluble, antigen non-specific, non-immunoglobulin mediators produced and secreted by blood mononuclear cells interacting in the cellular immune-response. To test the possibility that cytokines participate in the autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta-cells leading to insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, isolated human or rat islets of Langerhans were incubated for 7 days with cytokine-rich, cell-free supernatants of blood mononuclear cells from healthy human donors stimulated with or without purified protein derivative of tuberculin or phytohaemagglutinin. Glucose stimulated insulin-release, and contents of insulin and glucagon in islets incubated with cytokine-rich supernatants were markedly reduced. This impairment of islet function was due to a cytotoxic effect of cytokine-rich supernatants as judged by disintegration of normal light-microscopic morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Products / immunology*
  • Culture Techniques
  • Cytokines
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / immunology*
  • Male
  • Monocytes / immunology*
  • Rats
  • Secretory Rate / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Biological Products
  • Cytokines
  • Insulin
  • Glucose