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Free access

Matti S Ronkainen, Sanna Hoppu, Sari Korhonen, Satu Simell, Riitta Veijola, Jorma Ilonen, Olli Simell and Mikael Knip

Objective: The pattern of the humoral immunity to disease-associated autoantigens may reflect the severity of the autoimmune disease process. The purpose of this study was to delineate the maturation of the humoral immunity to one of the main autoantigens in type 1 diabetes (T1D), glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65).

Design and methods: Serum samples were obtained for the detection of epitope- and isotype-specific antibodies sequentially with short intervals from 36 young children with HLA-conferred genetic susceptibility to T1D starting from the first appearance of GAD65Ab. During prospective observation, ten children developed T1D. Antibodies were analyzed using biotinylated anti-human immunoglobulin (Ig) antibodies and chimeric GAD molecules in radio-binding assays.

Results: The immune response to GAD65 started as reactivity to the middle region and spread rapidly to the C-terminal region. IgG1 antibodies dominated among the isotypes from the first appearance of GAD65Ab, while other IgG subclasses were observed to a lesser extent. IgG4 antibodies emerged clearly as the last IgG subclass. A broad initial response comprising three to four IgG subclasses and the lack of an emerging IgG4 response during follow-up was associated with increased risk for progression to clinical diabetes (P<0.05).

Conclusions: The humoral response to GAD65 epitope clusters is relatively uniform in young children, whereas there is conspicuous individual variation in IgG subclass responses except for IgG1. A narrow initial IgG subclass response to GAD65 and the emergence of IgG4 antibodies were characteristic of those who remained non-diabetic over the first few years of GAD65 autoimmunity.

Restricted access

Timo Otonkoski, Mikael Knip, Pertti Panula, Sture Andersson, Inés Wong, Hy Goldman and Olli Simell

Abstract. Morphology, yield and function were studied in cultured islet-like cell clusters (ICC) from 140 human fetal pancreata obtained after abortions of different types performed at 11–23 weeks of gestation (12 by hysterotomy, 75 by mechanical dilation and extraction, and 53 induced with prostaglandin). After collagenase digestion and culture in medium supplemented with 10% human serum, up to 2000 free-floating ICC were formed from a single pancreas. Randomly scattered insulin- and glucagon-immunoreactive cells were found in the medullary part of the ICC. More than 100 ICC developed in 100% of the hysterotomies and 87% of the mechanical abortions, but in only 53% of the prostaglandin-induced abortions. Insulin and glucagon levels in the culture medium decreased rapidly during the first 7 days of culture, but then remained stable for at least 31 days. The hysterotomy-derived ICC responded to 10 mmol/l theophylline plus 20 mmol/l glucose by a 12.2 ± 3.1 (sem, N = 7) fold increase in insulin release, as compared with a 5.4 ± 0.9 fold response of the prostaglandin ICC (N = 16; P < 0.02). Despite the low proportion of B-cells, (pro)insulin biosynthesis accounted for 10% of the total protein biosynthesis in low (2 mmol/l) glucose. In conclusion, the yield and viability of the ICC were clearly better, if prostaglandin had not been used for the induction of the abortion.

Open access

Maarit K Koskinen, Olli Helminen, Jaakko Matomäki, Susanna Aspholm, Juha Mykkänen, Marjaana Mäkinen, Ville Simell, Mari Vähä-Mäkilä, Tuula Simell, Jorma Ilonen, Mikael Knip, Riitta Veijola, Jorma Toppari and Olli Simell

Objective

We aimed to characterize insulin responses to i.v. glucose during the preclinical period of type 1 diabetes starting from the emergence of islet autoimmunity.

Design and methods

A large population-based cohort of children with HLA-conferred susceptibility to type 1 diabetes was observed from birth. During regular follow-up visits islet autoantibodies were analysed. We compared markers of glucose metabolism in sequential intravenous glucose tolerance tests between 210 children who were positive for multiple (≥2) islet autoantibodies and progressed to type 1 diabetes (progressors) and 192 children testing positive for classical islet-cell antibodies only and remained healthy (non-progressors).

Results

In the progressors, the first phase insulin response (FPIR) was decreased as early as 4–6 years before the diagnosis when compared to the non-progressors (P=0.001). The difference in FPIR between the progressors and non-progressors was significant (P<0.001) in all age groups, increasing with age (at 2 years: difference 50% (95% CI 28–75%) and at 10 years: difference 172% (95% CI 128–224%)). The area under the 10-min insulin curve showed a similar difference between the groups (P<0.001; at 2 years: difference 36% (95% CI 17–58%) and at 10 years: difference 186% (95% CI 143–237%)). Insulin sensitivity did not differ between the groups.

Conclusions

FPIR is decreased several years before the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, implying an intrinsic defect in β-cell mass and/or function.

Free access

Heli T Siljander, Robert Hermann, Anne Hekkala, Jyrki Lähde, Laura Tanner, Päivi Keskinen, Jorma Ilonen, Olli Simell, Riitta Veijola and Mikael Knip

Objective

Reduced early insulin response has been shown to predict type 1 diabetes (T1D) in first-degree relatives of diabetic patients, while its role, as well as that of insulin resistance, has remained poorly defined in young children representing the general population. The predictive values of these markers and their relation to other risk factors of T1D were assessed in children with advanced β-cell autoimmunity, i.e. persistent positivity for two or more autoantibodies.

Design and methods

Intravenous glucose tolerance tests (IVGTTs) were carried out in 218 children with HLA-DQB1-conferred disease susceptibility and advanced β-cell autoimmunity. Baseline, metabolic and growth data were compared between children progressing to diabetes and those remaining unaffected. Hazard ratios for the disease predictors and the progression rate of T1D were assessed.

Results

Children developing T1D were younger at seroconversion, progressed more rapidly to advanced β-cell autoimmunity and had lower first-phase insulin response (FPIR) and homeostasis model assessment index for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) than those remaining non-diabetic. The levels of HOMA-IR/FPIR, islet cell antibodies, insulin autoantibodies (IAA) and islet antigen 2 antibodies (IA-2A) were higher in progressors. BMI SDS, FPIR, age at IVGTT and levels of IAA and IA-2A were predictive markers for T1D.

Conclusions

Young age, higher BMI SDS, reduced FPIR and higher levels of IAA and IA-2A predicted T1D in young children with HLA-DQB1-conferred disease susceptibility and advanced β-cell autoimmunity. Disease risk estimates were successfully stratified by the assessment of metabolic status and BMI. The role of insulin resistance as an accelerator of the disease process was minor.