Increased Seroreactivity to Proinsulin and Homologous Mycobacterial Peptides in Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults

PLoS One. 2017 May 4;12(5):e0176584. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176584. eCollection 2017.


Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) is a slowly progressing form of immune-mediated diabetes that combines phenotypical features of type 2 diabetes (T2D) with the presence of islet cell antigens detected in type 1 diabetes (T1D). Heterogeneous clinical picture have led to the classification of patients based on the levels of antibodies against glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 (GADA) that correlate with clinical phenotypes closer to T1D or T2D when GADA titers are high or low, respectively. To date, LADA etiology remains elusive despite numerous studies investigating on genetic predisposition and environmental risk factors. To our knowledge, this is the first study aimed at evaluation of a putative role played by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) as an infective agent in LADA pathogenesis. MAP is known to cause chronic enteritis in ruminants and has been associated with autoimmune disorders in humans. We analyzed seroreactivity of 223 Sardinian LADA subjects and 182 healthy volunteers against MAP-derived peptides and their human homologs of proinsulin and zinc transporter 8 protein. A significantly elevated positivity for MAP/proinsulin was detected among patients, with the highest prevalence in the 32-41-year-old T1D-like LADA subgroup, supporting our hypothesis of a possible MAP contribution in the development of autoimmunity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis / immunology*
  • Peptides / immunology*
  • Proinsulin / immunology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Proinsulin

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.