We have investigated whether antibodies to heat shock protein (hsp) 65 are present in sera from patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus by using Mycobacterium leprae hsp65. Fifty-two sera from patients with IDDM, 36 from patients with unclassified insulin-treated diabetes mellitus and 41 from normal healthy controls were examined by ELISA assay. Seventeen (32.7%) out of 52 IDDM sera and 10 (27.8%) out of unclassified insulin-treated diabetic sera were positive for anti-Mycobacterium (anti-M. leprae) hsp65 antibodies while none of the healthy control sera were positive. Based on western blot analysis, 12 of the 17 IDDM sera and 1 of 2 sera from the unclassified insulin-treated diabetics were positive for anti-M. leprae hsp65 antibodies while all normal control sera were negative. These results support the idea that hsp65 may play a role in the pathogenesis of IDDM. Future studies are necessary to elucidate the role of hsp65 in the pathogenesis of IDDM.
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