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Keywords:

  • VIP;
  • autoimmune;
  • FoxP3;
  • TGF-β

Abstract: Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)is a potent anti-inflammatory agent with immunoregulatory properties, skewing the immune response to a Th2 pattern of cytokine production. Here, we studied the effect of treatment with VIP in the development of diabetes in nonobese diabetic (NOD)mice, an animal model of type 1 diabetes. Mice treated with VIP from 4 weeks of age did not develop diabetes and showed milder insulitis than nontreated mice. The protective mechanism of VIP was associated with a reduction in the circulating levels of Th1 cytokines. In the pancreas of VIP-treated animals, regulatory T cell markers predominate, as indicated by the upregulation of FoxP3 and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), and the downregulation of the transcription factor, T-bet. These findings indicate that VIP restores tolerance to pancreatic islets by promoting the local differentiation and function of regulatory T cells.