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Keywords:

  • apoptosis-related genes expression;
  • autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation;
  • Bcl-2 family members;
  • death receptors family members;
  • inhibitory apoptosis proteins;
  • type 1 diabetes

Summary

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by T cell-mediated destruction of pancreatic β cells, resulting in insulin deficiency and hyperglycaemia. Recent studies have described that apoptosis impairment during central and peripheral tolerance is involved in T1D pathogenesis. In this study, the apoptosis-related gene expression in T1D patients was evaluated before and after treatment with high-dose immunosuppression followed by autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HDI-AHSCT). We also correlated gene expression results with clinical response to HDI-AHSCT. We observed a decreased expression of bad, bax and fasL pro-apoptotic genes and an increased expression of a1, bcl-xL and cIAP-2 anti-apoptotic genes in patients' peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) compared to controls. After HDI-AHSCT, we found an up-regulation of fas and fasL and a down-regulation of anti-apoptotic bcl-xL genes expression in post-HDI-AHSCT periods compared to pre-transplantation. Additionally, the levels of bad, bax, bok, fasL, bcl-xL and cIAP-1 genes expression were found similar to controls 2 years after HDI-AHSCT. Furthermore, over-expression of pro-apoptotic noxa at 540 days post-HDI-AHSCT correlated positively with insulin-free patients and conversely with glutamic acid decarboxylase autoantibodies (GAD65) autoantibody levels. Taken together, the results suggest that apoptosis-related genes deregulation in patients' PBMCs might be involved in breakdown of immune tolerance and consequently contribute to T1D pathogenesis. Furthermore, HDI-AHSCT modulated the expression of some apoptotic genes towards the levels similar to controls. Possibly, the expression of these apoptotic molecules could be applied as biomarkers of clinical remission of T1D patients treated with HDI-AHSCT therapy.