Immunological balance is associated with clinical outcome after autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in type 1 diabetes

Kelen C.R. Malmegrim*, Júlia T.C. de Azevedo, Lucas C.M. Arruda, Joana R.F. Abreu, Carlos E.B. Couri, Gislane L.V. de Oliveira, Patricia V.B. Palma, Gabriela T. Scortegagna, Ana B.P.L. Stracieri, Daniela A. Moraes, Juliana B.E. Dias, Fabiano Pieroni, Renato Cunha, Luiza Guilherme, Nathália M. Santos, Milton C. Foss, Dimas T. Covas, Richard K. Burt, Belinda P. Simões, Júlio C. VoltarelliBart O. Roep, Maria C. Oliveira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) increases C-peptide levels and induces insulin independence in patients with type 1 diabetes. This study aimed to investigate how clinical outcomes may associate with the immunological status, especially concerning the balance between immunoregulation and autoreactivity. Twenty-one type 1 diabetes patients were monitored after AHSCT and assessed every 6 months for duration of insulin independence, C-peptide levels, frequencies of islet-specific autoreactive CD8+ T cells (CTL), regulatory lymphocyte subsets, thymic function, and T-cell repertoire diversity. In median follow-up of 78 (range 15-106) months, all patients became insulin-independent, resuming insulin after median of 43 (range 6-100) months. Patients were retrospectively divided into short- or prolonged-remission groups, according to duration of insulin independence. For the entire follow-up, CD3+CD4+ T-cell numbers remained lower than baseline in both groups, whereas CD3+CD8+ T-cell levels did not change, resulting in a CD4/CD8 ratio inversion. Memory CTL comprehended most of T cells detected on long-term follow-up of patients after AHSCT. B cells reconstituted to baseline levels at 2-3 months post-AHSCT in both patient groups. In the prolonged-remission-group, baseline islet-specific T-cell autoreactivity persisted after transplantation, but regulatory T cell counts increased. Patients with lower frequencies of autoreactive islet-specific T cells remained insulin-free longer and presented greater C-peptide levels than those with lower frequencies of these cells. Therefore, immune monitoring identified a subgroup of patients with superior clinical outcome of AHSCT. Our study shows that improved immunoregulation may balance autoreactivity endorsing better metabolic outcomes in patients with lower frequencies of islet-specific T cells. Development of new strategies of AHSCT is necessary to increase frequency and function of T and B regulatory cells and decrease efficiently autoreactive islet-specific T and B memory cells in type 1 diabetes patients undergoing transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167
JournalFrontiers in immunology
Issue numberFEB
StatePublished - Feb 22 2017


  • Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
  • Autoreactivity
  • Immune reconstitution
  • Immunoregulation
  • Type 1 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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