The immunoreactive platform of the pancreatic islets influences the development of autoreactivity

Emil R. Unanue, Xiaoxiao Wan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Tissue homeostasis is maintained through a finely tuned balance between the immune system and the organ-resident cells. Disruption of this process not only results in organ dysfunction but also may trigger detrimental autoimmune responses. The islet of Langerhans consists of the insulin-producing b-cells essential for proper control of body metabolism, but less appreciated is that these cells naturally interact with the immune system, forming a platform by which the b-cell products are sensed, processed, and responded to by the local immune cells, particularly the islet-resident macrophages. Although its physiological outcomes are not completely understood, this immunoreactive platform is crucial for precipitating islet autoreactivity in individuals carrying genetic risks, leading to the development of type 1 diabetes. In this Perspective, we summarize recent studies that examine the cross talk between the b-cells and various immune components, with a primary focus on discussing how antigenic information generated during normal b-cell catabolism can be delivered to the resident macrophage and further recognized by the adaptive CD4 T-cell system, a critical step to initiate autoimmune diabetes. The core nature of the islet immune platform can be extrapolated to other endocrine tissues and may represent a common mechanism underlying the development of autoimmune syndromes influencing multiple endocrine organs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1544-1551
Number of pages8
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


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