Immunology and Genetics of Type 1 Diabetes

Mt Sinai J Med. 2008 Aug;75(4):314-27. doi: 10.1002/msj.20052.


Type 1 diabetes is one of the most well-characterized autoimmune diseases. Type 1 diabetes compromises an individual's insulin production through the autoimmune destruction of pancreatic beta-cells. Although much is understood about the mechanisms of this disease, multiple potential contributing factors are thought to play distinct parts in triggering type 1 diabetes. The immunological diagnosis of type 1 diabetes relies primarily on the detection of autoantibodies against islet antigens in the serum of type 1 diabetes mellitus patients. Genetic analyses of type 1 diabetes have linked human leukocyte antigen, specifically class II alleles, to susceptibility to disease onset. Environmental catalysts include various possible factors, such as viral infections, although the evidence linking infections with type 1 diabetes remains inconclusive. Imbalances within the immune system's system of checks and balances may promote immune activation, while undermining immune regulation. A lack of proper regulation and overactive pathogenic responses provide a framework for the development of autoimmune abnormalities. Type 1 diabetes is a predictable and potentially treatable disease that still requires much research to fully understand and pinpoint the exact triggering events leading to autoimmune activation. In silico research can aid the comprehension of the etiology of complex disease pathways, including Type I diabetes, in order to and help predict the outcome of therapeutic strategies aimed at preserving beta-cell function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantigens
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Environment
  • Epitopes
  • HLA Antigens / genetics
  • HLA Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Active / immunology*
  • Immunity, Active / physiology
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • T-Lymphocytes


  • Autoantigens
  • Epitopes
  • HLA Antigens