Background: The early detection of type 1 diabetes (T1D) largely depends on a reliable approach to monitor β cell loss. An effective way to evaluate the decline of β cell mass would allow early preventative intervention to preserve insulin secretion.
Main body: Recent progress in the development of novel biomarkers, based on tissue-specific methylation patterns, has inspired relevant studies in T1D. In this review, we focus on the application of circulating β cell-derived unmethylated insulin (INS) DNA. Circulating β cell-derived unmethylated INS DNA has a potential clinical value for the early detection of T1D, surveillance of islet transplantation rejection, and evaluation of response to therapy. Utilizing differentiated methylation patterns in different organs and employing a wide variety of molecular technologies also provide insights into the interrogation of biomarkers in other diseases with massive tissue-specific cell loss.
Conclusion: Circulating unmethylated INS DNA is a promising molecular biomarker for the early detection of T1D.
Keywords: Cell-free DNA; Early detection; Molecular biomarkers; Type 1 diabetes; Unmethylated insulin DNA.