Functional status of the immune system after chronic administration of 2'-deoxycoformycin in the BB rat


  • J. A. Thliveris
  • K. T. HayGlass
  • D. Manchur
  • E. Rector
  • A. Begleiter
  • J. B. Johnston


diabetes mellitus, deoxycoformycin, immune system


Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is caused by autoimmune destruction of pancreatic beta cells with the primary mechanism being cell mediated. The BB rat develops insulitis and IDDM with many features analogous to the disease in man. In previous studies we reported that weekly administration of 2'- deoxycoformycin (dCF) for four months reduces significantly the incidence of IDDM in the BB rat by 70%, and that the animals remain free of diabetes for a minimum of two months after drug withdrawal. Since the diabetes-prone BB rat is lymphopenic, with a reduction of both CD4 and CD8 cells, the continuous failure of dCF treated animals to develop diabetes may have been due to generalized immunosuppression. To test this possibility, the ability of dCF treated diabetesfree BB rats to mount an immune response after challenge with Ovalbumin was examined five months after drug withdrawal. The results showed that the postimmunization levels of total IgG and specific IgG in these animals did not differ from those observed in nondCF treated controls nor those of control diabetesresistant non-lymphopenic BB rats. Moreover, FACS analysis indicated no change in the percentages or total numbers of CD4t or CD8+ cells between the two groups of animals. Histological assessment of the pancreata of the post-dCF treated animals showed varying degrees of mononuclear cell infiltrates in the islets. These data demonstrate that treatment by dCF is not permanent, and may require intermittent or continuous administration to prevent development of diabetes. Further studies are needed to determine the mechanism of action of dCF in this model of IDDM.