Immunology and Diabetes

Immunology is the study of the immune system, which is responsible for protecting the body from foreign cells such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. Immune system cells called T and B lymphocytes identify and destroy these invaders. The lymphocytes usually recognize and ignore the body’s own tissue (a condition called immunological self-tolerance), but certain autoimmune disorders trigger a malfunction in the immune response causing an attack on the body’s own cells due to a loss of immune tolerance.

 

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas. This attack begins years before type 1 diabetes becomes evident, so by the time someone is diagnosed, extensive damage has already been done and the ability to produce insulin is lost.

 

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