Glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) is a pancreatic beta cell autoantigen in humans and nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice. beta Cell-specific suppression of GAD expression in two lines of antisense GAD transgenic NOD mice prevented autoimmune diabetes, whereas persistent GAD expression in the beta cells in the other four lines of antisense GAD transgenic NOD mice resulted in diabetes, similar to that seen in transgene-negative NOD mice. Complete suppression of beta cell GAD expression blocked the generation of diabetogenic T cells and protected islet grafts from autoimmune injury. Thus, beta cell-specific GAD expression is required for the development of autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice, and modulation of GAD might, therefore, have therapeutic value in type 1 diabetes.
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