Diabetes-prone BioBreeding/Worcester (BB/Wor) rats received thrice weekly injections of mAb against antigens expressed on the surface of all T cells (OX19), cytotoxic/suppressor, and NK cells (OX8), helper/inducer cells (W3/25, OX35, OX38), and Ia+ cells (OX6, 3JP, OX17). Treatment with OX8 or OX19 achieved stable reductions of splenic and peripheral blood NK cells and helper/inducer T lymphocytes, respectively, and protected against diabetes. OX19 injections also prevented lymphocytic insulitis, thyroiditis, and the synthesis of autoantibodies to thyroid colloid and smooth muscle antigens. OX8 injections reduced splenic NK-mediated YAC-1 cell lysis, but did not prevent insulitis, thyroiditis, or autoantibody synthesis. Injections of mAb specific for antigens on the surface of helper/inducer cells, and for cells expressing IaE antigens provided marginal protection against diabetes without reductions of phenotypic subsets. These findings suggest that pancreatic beta cell destruction in the spontaneously diabetic BB/Wor rat is mediated by the combined action of NK and helper/inducer cells.

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