• IFN-α;
  • type 1 diabetes;
  • poly:IC

Viral infection has been hypothesized to be one of the environmental triggers for the development of type 1 diabetes. Infection induces a large amount of interferon-α (IFN-α) produced by dendritic cells and other cells. To test the role of IFN-α in the development of diabetes, we have used three different experimental approaches in both diabetes-prone and -resistant animal models for type 1 diabetes. Our results suggested that a viral mimic or IFN-α can either suppress or promote the development of autoimmune diabetes, depending on the model system. It is likely that IFN-α plays a complex role in the etiology of type 1 diabetes.