Aims/hypothesis: We examined the prevalence of islet autoantibodies and their relationship to glycaemic control over 10 years in patients diagnosed clinically with new-onset type 2 diabetes.
Methods: Patient clinical characteristics and autoantibody status were determined at entry to the UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) before randomisation to different glucose control policies. Patients were followed for 10 years.
Results: Data available on 4,545 of the 5,102 UKPDS patients showed that 11.6% had antibodies to at least one of three antigens: islet cell cytoplasm, glutamic acid decarboxylase and islet autoantibody 2A (IA-2A). Autoantibody-positive patients were younger, more often Caucasian and leaner, with lower beta cell function and higher insulin sensitivity than autoantibody-negative patients. They also had higher HbA1c, and HDL-cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure, total cholesterol and plasma triglyceride levels. Despite relative hyperglycaemia, autoantibody-positive patients were less likely to have the metabolic syndrome (as defined by the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Program III), reflecting a more beneficial overall risk factor profile. Of 3,867 patients with post-dietary run-in fasting plasma glucose (FPG) values between 6.0 and 14.9 mmol/l and no hyperglycaemic symptoms, 9.4% were autoantibody-positive, compared with 25.1% of 678 patients with FPG values of 15.0 mmol/l or higher, or hyperglycaemic symptoms. In both groups, no differences were seen between those with and without autoantibodies in changes to HbA1c over time, but autoantibody-positive patients required insulin treatment earlier, irrespective of the allocated therapy (p<0.0001).
Conclusions/interpretation: Autoantibody-positive patients can be treated initially with sulphonylurea, but are likely to require insulin earlier than autoantibody-negative patients.