Breed differences in development of anti-insulin antibodies in diabetic dogs and investigation of the role of dog leukocyte antigen (DLA) genes

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2015 Oct 15;167(3-4):130-8. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2015.07.014. Epub 2015 Aug 2.


Administration of insulin for treatment of diabetes mellitus in dogs can stimulate an immune response, with a proportion of animals developing anti-insulin antibodies (AIA). For an IgG antibody response to occur, this would require B cell presentation of insulin peptides by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules, encoded by dog leukocyte antigen (DLA) genes, in order to receive T-cell help for class switching. DLA genes are highly polymorphic in the dog population and vary from breed to breed. The aim of the present study was to evaluate AIA reactivity in diabetic dogs of different breeds and to investigate whether DLA genes influence AIA status. Indirect ELISA was used to determine serological reactivity to insulin in diabetic dogs, treated with either a porcine or bovine insulin preparation. DLA haplotypes for diabetic dogs were determined by sequence-based typing of DLA-DRB1, -DQA1 and -DQB1 loci. Significantly greater insulin reactivity was seen in treated diabetic dogs (n=942) compared with non-diabetic dogs (n=100). Relatively few newly diagnosed diabetic dogs (3/109) were found to be AIA positive, although this provides evidence that insulin autoantibodies might be involved in the pathogenesis of the disease in some cases. Of the diabetic dogs treated with a bovine insulin preparation, 52.3% (182/348) were AIA positive, compared with 12.6% (75/594) of dogs treated with a porcine insulin preparation, suggesting that bovine insulin is more immunogenic. Breeds such as dachshund, Cairn terrier, miniature schnauzer and Tibetan terrier were more likely to develop AIA, whereas cocker spaniels were less likely to develop AIA, compared with crossbreed dogs. In diabetic dogs, DLA haplotype DRB1*0015--DQA1*006--DQB1*023 was associated with being AIA positive, whereas the haplotype DLA-DRB1*006--DQA1*005--DQB1*007 showed an association with being AIA negative. These research findings suggest that DLA genes influence AIA responses in treated diabetic dogs.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; Dog breeds; Dog leukocyte antigen; Insulin; Major histocompatibility complex; Susceptibility genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy
  • Dog Diseases / genetics*
  • Dog Diseases / immunology*
  • Dogs
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics*
  • Insulin / immunology
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Insulin Antibodies / blood*
  • Insulin, Regular, Pork / immunology
  • Insulin, Regular, Pork / therapeutic use
  • Species Specificity


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Insulin
  • Insulin Antibodies
  • Insulin, Regular, Pork
  • histocompatibility antigen DLA