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October 18, 2003

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Question from Santa Rosa, California, USA:

I know there have been some studies on endotoxin LPS in people with type 1 diabetes. What can you tell me about this?

Answer:

This is a rather complex topic to be distilled understandably. Put very simply though, LPS or lipopolysaccharide is a molecule that is a component of bacterial endotoxin and a constituent of bacterial and other cell walls. Its relevance to type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes is that it has the capacity to enhance the production of the cytokine IL-12p40 by suitably primed antigen presenting cells. The IL-p40 is then important in stimulating the production of the sensitised lymphocytes which are the effector cells in autoimmune damage to the islet cells. Perhaps much more important is that the understanding of this sequence of events has led to the genetic engineering of cultured insulinoma cells so that they can become resistant to IL-12p40 and thus become more effective surrogate islet cells for transplantation.

DOB