We reviewed the mechanisms involved in the alteration and death of pancreatic β-cells caused by interleukin 1β (IL-β) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and defence systems that have β-cells to try to prevent damage. We located the most relevant articles by searching databases that included MEDLINE and PubMed from 1995 to 2009. The information reviewed indicates that IL-1β and INF-γ secreted mainly by macrophages and lymphocytes infiltrating the islets of Langerhans affect β-cell function, altering the production of insulin and even triggering processes that cause its death. This occurs through the interaction of many substances, among which are nitric oxide, reactive oxygen species and Fas expression in the plasma membrane. The mechanisms by which cytokines cause β-cell damage are complex and intricate, so it is not yet completely understood, despite intense research has been conducted in recent years.
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