Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is considered to be a T cell-mediated disease, and many reports suggest that some HLA types, especially HLA DR4 and DR9, convey susceptibility to T1DM in Japanese. We investigated the association between T cell reactivity against GAD and HLA types in "islet-associated autoantibody-positive" T1DM in Japanese. Blood samples were obtained from 36 "autoantibody-positive" type 1 diabetic patients with HLA DR4 or DR9 and 23 type 2 diabetic patients with HLA DR4 or DR9 as controls. They were divided into three groups, DR4/9, DR4/X, and DR9/X groups. In each HLA type group, GAD-reactive IFN-γ-preducing CD4+ cells were assessed by means of intracellular cytokine staining for flow cytometry. Type 1 diabetic patients with HLA DR9/X had significantly higher numbers of GAD-reactive IFN-γ-producing CD4+ cells as compared to type 1 diabetic patients with DR4/X or DR4/9 (P < 0.05) and all type 2 diabetic patients. There was no significant difference in the number of GAD-reactive IFN-γ-producing CD4+ cells between type 1 diabetic and type 2 diabetic patients belonging to the DR4/X and DR4/9 groups. There was an association between T cell reactivity against GAD and HLA DR9 in Japanese type 1 diabetes.
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