Autoimmunity against pancreatic β-cell autoantigens is a characteristic of childhood type 1 diabetes (T1D). Autoimmunity usually appears in genetically susceptible children with the development of autoantibodies against (pro)insulin in early childhood. The offspring of mothers with T1D are protected from this process. The aim of this study was to determine whether the protection conferred by maternal T1D is associated with improved neonatal tolerance against (pro)insulin. Consistent with improved neonatal tolerance, the offspring of mothers with T1D had reduced cord blood CD4+ T-cell responses to proinsulin and insulin, a reduction in the inflammatory profile of their proinsulin-responsive CD4+ T cells, and improved regulation of CD4+ T cell responses to proinsulin at 9 months of age, as compared with offspring with a father or sibling with T1D. Maternal T1D was also associated with a modest reduction in CpG methylation of the INS gene in cord blood mononuclear cells from offspring with a susceptible INS genotype. Our findings support the concept that a maternal T1D environment improves neonatal immune tolerance against the autoantigen (pro)insulin.
- Received July 31, 2019.
- Accepted December 28, 2019.
- © 2020 by the American Diabetes Association.