Patients with adult-onset autoimmune diabetes have less Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA)-associated genetic risk and fewer diabetes-associated autoantibodies compared with patients with childhood-onset Type 1 diabetes. Metabolic changes at diagnosis reflect a broad clinical phenotype ranging from diabetic ketoacidosis to mild non-insulin-requiring diabetes, also known as latent autoimmune diabetes of the adult (LADA). This latter phenotype is the most prevalent form of adult-onset autoimmune diabetes and probably the most prevalent form of autoimmune diabetes in general. Although LADA is associated with the same genetic and immunological features as childhood-onset Type 1 diabetes, it also shares some genetic features with Type 2 diabetes, which raises the question of genetic heterogeneity predisposing to this form of the disease. The potential value of screening patients with adult-onset diabetes for diabetes-associated autoantibodies to identify those with LADA is emphasized by their lack of clinically distinct features, their different natural history compared with Type 2 diabetes and their potential need for a dedicated management strategy. The fact that, in some studies, patients with LADA show worse glucose control than patients with Type 2 diabetes, highlights the need for further therapeutic studies. Challenges regarding classification, epidemiology, genetics, metabolism, immunology, clinical presentation and treatment of LADA were discussed at a 2014 workshop arranged by the Danish Diabetes Academy. The presentations and discussions are summarized in this review, which sets out the current ideas and controversies surrounding this form of diabetes.
© 2015 The Authors. Diabetic Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Diabetes UK.