Spontaneous diabetes in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice results from β-cell destruction by autoreactive T lymphocytes. Here, we report the significance of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) peptide as a tool for the prevention of type 1 diabetes. Female NOD mice were immunized with a subcutaneous injection of IGF-1, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), insulin or IGF-1-derived peptides (residues 8-23, 24-41 or 50-70) in incomplete Freund's adjuvant (IFA) or with IFA only as the control group at 4 weeks of age, and observed up to 36-37 weeks of age. Diabetes onset was significantly suppressed and delayed in the IGF-1 group as compared to the GAD, insulin and control groups (p < 0.05), and it was significantly suppressed and delayed in the (50-70)IGF-1 group as compared to the (8-23)IGF-1 and control groups (p < 0.02). Although the degree of insulitis in all treated mice was not significantly different, a significant number of IL-4-producing cells in response to IGF-1 peptides were detected in (50-70)IGF-1-treated mice in intracellular cytokine assay. In conclusion, IGF-1 peptide 50-70 immunizations of NOD mice suppressed and delayed diabetes onset, probably through amplification of the Th2-type response. It was suggested that IGF-1 peptide 50-70 immunization can be used as a tool for prevention of type 1 diabetes.
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