Recent work from one laboratory has shown, in both nonobese diabetic mice and humans, an association between insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and quantitative difference in MHC class I molecule expression. This reported decrease in MHC class I molecule expression is very controversial in the nonobese diabetic mouse model of IDDM, but to our knowledge, it has not been evaluated by another group in human IDDM. To evaluate this question, we studied 30 patients with IDDM and 30 age- and sex-matched normal controls. MHC class I molecule expression was measured by flow cytometry with conformational-dependent MHC class I mAbs. The mean antigen density of MHC class I molecule expression in IDDM vs. normal control is 454+/-34 vs. 440+/-28 for lymphocytes and 1,440+/-117 vs. 1,494+/- 117 for monocytes, both P > 0.05. Three conformational-dependent MHC class I antibodies showed consistent results. To estimate the biological variation of MHC class I molecule expression in normal controls, we also studied 10 age- and sex-matched normal control pairs. Using X +/-SD of the percentage difference of mean antigen density in the normal control pairs as our definition of normal, we found that 70% (21/30) of IDDM patients had normal, 13% (4/30) of IDDM patients had decreased, and 17% (5/30) of IDDM patients had increased MHC class I molecule expression on lymphocytes. All IDDM patients showed normal MHC class I expression on monocytes. In conclusion, we find that there is no consistent decrease in MHC class I molecule expression on either lymphocytes or monocytes from patients with IDDM. The MHC class I molecule expression observed in IDDM patients is largely within the expected biological variation of MHC class I molecule expression that has been observed in normal controls.
W Hao, P Gladstone, S Engardt, C Greenbaum, J P Palmer