A rogue hybrid lymphocyte, bearing characteristics of both B and T cells, may play a role in driving autoimmunity in the disease, although the mechanism is far from clear.

According to textbooks, cells of the adaptive immune system must be either B cells or T cells—they can’t be both, or anything in between. But proving once again that nature is full of surprises, scientists have now discovered a novel type of lymphocyte in type 1 diabetes patients that combines characteristics of B cells and T cells. The researchers suggest that these hybrids could play an important role in the disease by encouraging the immune system to attack the body’s own insulin-producing cells, they report today (May 30) in Cell.

 

Credit: NIAID

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