Aim: To evaluate clinical and immunological factors that are associated with lipodystrophy, i.e. lipoatrophy and lipohypertrophy, in diabetic children and adolescents.
Methods: We investigated in a cross-sectional study 112 children and adolescents (age 1.1-19.1 yrs.) with type 1 diabetes. To grade lipodystrophy, we developed a clinical score ranging from normal (grade 0), moderate hypertrophy of subcutaneous tissue (grade 1), severe hypertrophy with increased density of tissue (grade 2) to lipoatrophy (grade 3). In all children, grade of lipodystrophy, antibodies against insulin (IA) or beta cell antigens (IA-2 and GAD) and clinical parameters were documented.
Results: The antibodies against insulin (IA) increased significantly after diabetes manifestation and initiation of insulin treatment, while beta cell specific antibodies (IA-2, GAD) did not. Lipoatrophy (grade 3) was seen in 4 children, severe lipohypertrophy (grade 2) in 18 and moderate lipohypertrophy (grade 1) in 27 children. No alteration of injection sites was found in 63 children. Amongst clinical and immunological parameters, IA levels were significantly associated with hypertrophy or atrophy of injection sites.
Conclusion: The strong association of lipoatrophy and lipohypertrophy with insulin antibodies might suggest that autoimmune phenomena with insulin play a role in the development of both. Despite an association of IA and lipodystrophy in type 1 diabetic children, the causal link between the two remains unproven and requires further longitudinal exploration.