Impairment of suppressor-cell activity may be important in the pathogenesis and maintenance of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). In 23 recent-onset IDDM patients, lymphocyte sensitivity in vitro to theophylline was tested both in basal conditions and after improvement of metabolic control. This pharmacologic agent is mainly effective on a lymphocytic subpopulation with phenotypic and functional suppressive features. Peripheral blood lymphocytes from IDDM patients showed a loss of theophylline sensitivity, identified as inhibition of both E-rosette formation and blastogenic response to polyclonal mitogens concanavalin A (ConA) and phytohemagglutinin (PHA). An inverse relationship was demonstrated between the theophylline-induced suppression of ConA blastogenic response and blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin levels (P < .01). Metabolic control seemed to be important even in relation to lymphocyte subpopulation distribution. In IDDM patients we found a significant (P < .05) reduction of OKT4+ lymphocytes that is correlated with blood glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin levels (P < .01). The improvement of metabolic control led to recovery of theophylline sensitivity. We suggest a deficiency in a suppressive system that could be involved in IDDM onset and the possible role of metabolic control in the impairment of some immunologic functions reported with this pathologic condition.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism