Diabetic autoimmune markers in children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes

Pediatrics. 2001 Jun;107(6):E102. doi: 10.1542/peds.107.6.e102.


Background: There is an increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. Absence of known diabetes autoimmune markers is sometimes required to confirm the diagnosis.

Objective: To identify clinical and autoimmune characteristics of type 2 diabetes in a pediatric population.

Method: We report an analysis of 48 children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes, compared with 39 randomly selected children with type 1 diabetes, diagnosed and followed at the Loma Linda University Pediatric Diabetes Center. Ethnic, familial, seasonal, and autoimmune marker characteristics are outlined. To determine the reliability of antibody testing in confirming the type of diabetes at diagnosis, we studied the incidence of positive islet cell antibodies (ICAs), glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies (GADs), and insulin autoantibodies (IAAs) at diagnosis in both groups. ICA512, GADs, and IAAs were measured by radioimmunoassay.

Results: The cohort with type 2 diabetes had a similar gender distribution as the group with type 1 diabetes but a significantly higher age at diagnosis. Ethnic background was significantly different between the 2 groups, predominantly Hispanic in type 2 and white in type 1. Body mass index was significantly higher in type 2 diabetes (mean = 31.24 kg/m(2)). Among the patients with type 2 diabetes, 33% presented in diabetic ketoacidosis, random blood glucose at diagnosis ranged from 11.4 to 22.25 mmol/L (228-445 mg/dL), fasting C-peptide levels ranged from 0.89 to 2.7 nmol/L (2.7-8.2 ng/mL; normal: <1.36 nmol/L), and hemoglobin A(1C) was 10.8 +/- 3.5% (normal: <6.6%). None of these parameters was significantly different from the type 1 diabetes group. Although the incidence of diabetes antibody markers was significantly lower in type 2 versus type 1 diabetes, 8.1% of patients with type 2 diabetes had positive ICAs, 30.3% had positive GADs, and 34.8% had positive IAAs without ever being treated with insulin. In the type 2 diabetes group, none of the Hispanic patients had ICAs. However, there was no significant correlation between any of the diabetes antibodies and obesity, presence of acanthosis nigricans, or family history of diabetes. The frequency of thyroid antibodies was not significantly different from the group with type 1 diabetes. Daily insulin requirements 1 year after diagnosis were significantly lower in type 2 diabetes, ranging from 0 to 1.2 U/kg with a mean of 0.33.

Conclusion: Absence of diabetes autoimmune markers is not a prerequisite for the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Autoantibodies* / analysis
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / classification
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / classification
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / immunology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / immunology
  • Humans
  • Insulin / immunology
  • Islets of Langerhans / immunology
  • Male
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design / standards
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies


  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers
  • Insulin
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase