Mucosal-associated invariant T cell alterations during the development of human type 1 diabetes.

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Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are innate-like T cells that recognise derivatives of bacterial riboflavin metabolites presented by MHC-Ib-related protein 1 (MR1) molecules and are important effector cells for mucosal immunity. Their development can be influenced by the intestinal microbiome. Since the development of type 1 diabetes has been associated with changes in the gut microbiome, this can be hypothesised to lead to alterations in circulating MAIT cells. Accordingly, peripheral blood MAIT cell alterations have been reported previously in patients with type 1 diabetes. However, a comprehensive analysis of the frequency and phenotype of circulating MAIT cells at different stages of type 1 diabetes progression is currently lacking.We analysed the frequency, phenotype and functionality of peripheral blood MAIT cells, as well as γδ T cells, invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells and natural killer (NK) cells with flow cytometry in a cross-sectional paediatric cohort (aged 2-15) consisting of 51 children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, 27 autoantibody-positive (AAb+) at-risk children, and 113 healthy control children of similar age and HLA class II background. The frequency of MAIT cells was also assessed in a separate cross-sectional adult cohort (aged 19-39) of 33 adults with established type 1 diabetes and 37 healthy individuals of similar age.Children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes displayed a proportional increase of CD8-CD27- MAIT cells compared with healthy control children (median 4.6% vs 3.1% of MAIT cells, respectively, p = 0.004), which was associated with reduced expression of C-C chemokine receptor (CCR)5 (median 90.0% vs 94.3% of MAIT cells, p = 0.02) and β7 integrin (median 73.5% vs 81.7% of MAIT cells, p = 0.004), as well as decreased production of IFN-γ (median 57.1% vs 69.3% of MAIT cells, p = 0.04) by the MAIT cells. The frequency of MAIT cells was also decreased in AAb+ children who later progressed to type 1 diabetes compared with healthy control children (median 0.44% vs 0.96% of CD3+ T cells, p = 0.04), as well as in adult patients with a short duration of type 1 diabetes (less than 6 years after diagnosis) compared with control individuals (median 0.87% vs 2.19% of CD3+ T cells, p = 0.007). No alterations in γδ T cell, iNKT cell or NK cell frequencies were observed in children with type 1 diabetes or in AAb+ children, with the exception of an increased frequency of IL-17A+ γδ T cells in children with newly diagnosed diabetes compared with healthy control children (median 1.58% vs 1.09% of γδ T cells, p = 0.002).Changes in the frequency and phenotype of circulating MAIT cells were detectable before, at the onset and after diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in cross-sectional cohorts. Our results suggest a possible temporal association between peripheral blood MAIT cell alterations and the clinical onset of type 1 diabetes. Graphical abstract.


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