Monogenic diabetes mellitus in youth. The MODY syndromes

Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 1999 Dec;28(4):765-85. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8529(05)70101-8.


Maturity onset diabetes of the young is characterized by early onset diabetes inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern. Classic MODY occurs predominantly in Caucasians and presents before age 25, is nonketotic, and is generally not insulin-requiring. Less than 5% of cases of childhood diabetes in Caucasians are caused by MODY. ADM is a subtype of MODY that occurs in approximately 10% of African-Americans with youth onset diabetes. In contrast to MODY in Caucasians, ADM presents clinically as acute onset diabetes often associated with weight loss, ketosis, and even diabetic ketoacidosis. Approximately 50% of patients with ADM are obese. Therefore, based strictly on clinical grounds, at onset, ADM cannot be distinguished from type 1 diabetes. Months to years following diagnosis, a non-insulin-dependent clinical course develops in patients with ADM that is clearly different from type 1 diabetes. Mutations in five genes can cause MODY. These genes encode hepatocyte nuclear factor-4 alpha (HNF-4 alpha, MODY1), glucokinase (MODY2), hepatocyte nuclear factor-1 alpha (HNF-1 alpha, MODY3), insulin promoter factor-1 (IPF-1, MODY4), and hepatocyte nuclear factor-1 beta (HNF-1 beta, MODY5). These monogenic forms of MODY have been used as model systems to investigate the inheritance and pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes. Clinicians, should be able to diagnose MODY. Type 1 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes in Caucasians, is always insulin-requiring for control and survival, whereas patients with MODY do not usually require long-term insulin for survival. Diagnostic confusion can lead to inappropriate management and patient expectations. Primary care physicians must be alert to avoid therapeutic confusion when patients with ADM enter into the non-insulin-dependent stage. An approach to the diagnosis of childhood diabetes is offered in Table 4. The majority of youth onset diabetes remains type 1; however, the frequency of type 2 diabetes is rising in obese children and adolescents and especially in obese minority youth. The diagnosis of MODY can be made through a careful review of the patient's clinical course, severity of hyperglycemia, and family history. The identification of islet autoantibodies is confirmatory evidence of autoimmune (type 1) diabetes. Because testing for MODY mutations is expensive and is performed at a select number of research laboratories only, routine molecular genetic studies to search for the various MODY mutations should be limited to research investigations. In the future, the availability of gene chip technology may allow rapid screening of mitochondrial and MODY mutations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / classification
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / genetics
  • Male
  • Mutation


  • Insulin