Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an auto-immune disease characterized by the selective destruction of the insulin secreting beta cells in the pancreas during an inflammatory phase known as insulitis. Patients with T1D are typically dependent on the administration of externally provided insulin in order to manage blood glucose levels. Whilst technological developments have significantly improved both the life expectancy and quality of life of these patients, an understanding of the mechanisms of the disease remains elusive. Animal models, such as the NOD mouse model, have been widely used to probe the process of insulitis, but there exist very few data from humans studied at disease onset. In this manuscript, we employ data from human pancreases collected close to the onset of T1D and propose a spatio-temporal computational model for the progression of insulitis in human T1D, with particular focus on the mechanisms underlying the development of insulitis in pancreatic islets. This framework allows us to investigate how the time-course of insulitis progression is affected by altering key parameters, such as the number of the CD20+ B cells present in the inflammatory infiltrate, which has recently been proposed to influence the aggressiveness of the disease. Through the analysis of repeated simulations of our stochastic model, which track the number of beta cells within an islet, we find that increased numbers of B cells in the peri-islet space lead to faster destruction of the beta cells. We also find that the balance between the degradation and repair of the basement membrane surrounding the islet is a critical component in governing the overall destruction rate of the beta cells and their remaining number. Our model provides a framework for continued and improved spatio-temporal modeling of human T1D.
- Journal Article