Diabetes in Africans. Part 2: Ketosis-prone atypical diabetes mellitus

Diabetes Metab. 2002 Feb;28(1):5-12.


Diabetes is increasing with ageing and changes in lifestyle in populations of African ancestry as described in the first part of this review. Apart from classical type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, atypical presentations are observed in these populations, especially "tropical" and "ketosis-prone" atypical diabetes. Ketosis-prone atypical diabetes that has been classified by ADA as idiopathic Type 1 diabetes or Type 1b is the most common atypical form. It is characterised by an acute initial presentation with severe hyperglycaemia and ketosis, as classical Type 1 diabetes. In the subsequent clinical course after initiation of insulin therapy, prolonged remission is often possible with cessation of insulin therapy and maintenance of appropriate metabolic control. Metabolic studies showed a markedly blunted insulin secretory response to glucose, partially reversible with the improvement of blood glucose control. Variable levels of insulin resistance are observed, especially in obese patients. Pancreatic B-cell autoimmunity is an exceptional finding. Association with type 1 susceptibility HLA alleles is variable. The molecular mechanisms underlining the insulin secretory dysfunction are still to be understood and may involve gluco-lipotoxicity processes, glucagon dysregulation, effect of stress, or may be genetically determined. The present review summarises the available clinical and metabolic features and suggests some pathogenetic hypotheses and principles of management for the ketosis-prone atypical diabetes of the Africans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa / ethnology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / classification*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Humans