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Neutrophils and type 1 autoimmune diabetes

Battaglia, Manuela

Current Opinion in Hematology: January 2014 - Volume 21 - Issue 1 - p 8–15
doi: 10.1097/MOH.0000000000000008
MYELOID BIOLOGY: Edited by David C. Dale

Purpose of review Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is commonly portrayed as an autoimmune disease, in which misguided T lymphocyte activities cause selective destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells. New findings suggest that the immunological picture might be more complex than previously imagined. This review will focus on the recent studies that provide new insight into the hypothesis that neutrophils might participate in T1D initiation and perpetuation.

Recent findings Reduced circulating neutrophil counts associate with T1D in humans from the pre-diabetic to the onset phases. Additionally, a hitherto unacknowledged role for neutrophils in T1D pathogenesis has recently been demonstrated in mice with spontaneous autoimmune T1D.

Summary Although these findings have yet to undergo the scrutiny of the scientific community, they suggest that neutrophils – in addition to macrophages, dendritic cells, and lymphocytes – may play a role in T1D immunopathology. Further research is needed, which might lead to the definition of new therapeutic strategies for a disease that to date has proved controllable but incurable.

San Raffaele Scientific Institute, San Raffaele Diabetes Research Institute, Milan, Italy

Correspondence to Manuela Battaglia, San Raffaele Diabetes Research Institute, Via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milan, Italy. Tel: +39 02 2643 1; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins