Frequencies of CD8 and DN MAIT Cells Among Children Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes Are Similar to Age-Matched Controls

Robert Z. Harms, Katie R. Ostlund, Monina Cabrera, Earline Edwards, Victoria B. Smith, Lynette M. Smith, Nora Sarvetnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells have been implicated in various forms of autoimmunity, including type 1 diabetes (T1D). Here, we tested the hypothesis that CD8 and double negative (DN) MAIT cell frequencies were altered among diagnosed T1D subjects compared to controls. To do this, we analyzed cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from age-matched T1D and control children using flow cytometry. We observed that CD8 and DN MAIT cell frequencies were similarly abundant between the two groups. We tested for associations between MAIT cell frequency and T1D-associated parameters, which could reveal a pathogenic role for MAIT cells in the absence of changes in frequency. We found no significant associations between CD8 and DN MAIT cell frequency and levels of islet cell autoantibodies (ICA), glutamate decarboxylase 65 (GAD65) autoantibodies, zinc transporter 8 (ZNT8) autoantibodies, and insulinoma antigen 2 (IA-2) autoantibodies. Furthermore, CD8 and DN MAIT cell frequencies were not significantly associated with time since diagnosis, c-peptide levels, HbA1c, and BMI. As we have examined this cohort for multiple soluble factors previously, we tested for associations between relevant factors and MAIT cell frequency. These could help to explain the broad range of MAIT frequencies we observed and/or indicate disease-associated processes. Although we found nothing disease-specific, we observed that levels of IL-7, IL-18, 25 (OH) vitamin D, and the ratio of vitamin D binding protein to 25 (OH) vitamin D were all associated with MAIT cell frequency. Finally, previous cytomegalovirus infection was associated with reduced CD8 and DN MAIT cells. From this evaluation, we found no connections between CD8 and DN MAIT cells and children with T1D. However, we did observe several intrinsic and extrinsic factors that could influence peripheral MAIT cell abundance among all children. These factors may be worth consideration in future experimental design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number604157
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Feb 23 2021


  • autoantibodies
  • human cytomegalovirus
  • interleukin 18
  • interleukin 7
  • mucosal associated invariant T cells
  • type 1 diabetes
  • vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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