Aims/hypothesis The aim of this study was to visualise the dynamics and interactions of the cells involved in autoimmune-driven inflammation in type 1 diabetes. Methods We adopted the anterior chamber of the eye (ACE) transplantation model to perform non-invasive imaging of leucocytes infiltrating the endocrine pancreas during initiation and progression of insulitis in the NOD mouse. Individual, ACE-transplanted islets of Langerhans were longitudinally and repetitively imaged by stereomicroscopy and two-photon microscopy to follow fluorescently labelled leucocyte subsets. Results We demonstrate that, in spite of the immune privileged status of the eye, the ACE-transplanted islets develop infiltration and beta cell destruction, recapitulating the autoimmune insulitis of the pancreas, and exemplify this by analysing reporter cell populations expressing green fluorescent protein under the Cd11c or Foxp3 promoters. We also provide evidence that differences in morphological appearance of subpopulations of infiltrating leucocytes can be correlated to their distinct dynamic behaviour. Conclusions/interpretation Together, these findings demonstrate that the kinetics and dynamics of these key cellular components of autoimmune diabetes can be elucidated using this imaging platform for single cell resolution, non-invasive and repetitive monitoring of the individual islets of Langerhans during the natural development of autoimmune diabetes.
Diabetologia, 2013, Vol 56, Issue 12, p. 2669-2678