Objective: A case-control study was conducted to evaluate the effects of type 1 diabetes mellitus (IDDM) on plasma levels of vitamin A (retinol) and serum levels of retinol-binding protein (RBP) and their relationship with the atherogenic indicators.
Subjects: A total of 47 randomised IDDM children were recruited from those treated at the Endocrinology Unit of the University Hospital of Granada (Spain). They were matched for age and sex with 16 healthy children.
Methods: The following parameters were measured in all patients: serum concentrations of total cholesterol, triglycerides, high (HDL, spectrophotometry), very low (VLDL) and low (LDL) density lipoprotein cholesterol (Friedewald's formula); serum levels of RBP (kinetic nephelometry); plasma vitamin A and glycosilated haemoglobin (HbA1c; high performance chromatography).
Results: Higher RBP concentrations in IDDM children (P=0.05), lower retinol levels (P=0.05) and lower vitamin A/cholesterol ratio (P=0.02) than in the control group were found; no differences in the atherogenic indicators were observed. There was a correlation between RBP and vitamin A (P=0.0001). Relationships between retinol, RBP and atherogenic indicators were demonstrated in the IDDM group (A-LDLc/HDLc (P=0.01); A-(VLDL+LDL)c/HDLc (P=0.007); RBP-LDLc/HDLc (P=0.05); RBP-(VLDL+LDL)c/HDLc (P=0.02)), and an inverse relationship was found between the vitamin A/TG ratio and HbA1c (P=0.004). The children with HbA1c>8% showed increased atherogenic indicators and lower vitamin A/CHOL and vitamin A/TG ratios than those with good control of the illness.
Conclusions: The IDDM children with poor metabolic control face a higher atherogenic risk and vitamin A 'relative deficiency' risk than those with good metabolic control of their illness. Relationships between retinol and RBP with atherogenic indicators were found. The results suggest that vitamin A therapeutic supplements in IDDM children may reduce or prevent atherogenic risk.