Context: Islet autoantibodies are markers of type 1 diabetes, and an increase in number of autoantibodies detected during the preclinical phase predicts progression to overt disease.
Objective: To refine the effect of age in relation to islet antibody type on progression from single to multiple autoantibodies in relatives of people with type 1 diabetes.
Research design and methods: We examined 994 relatives with normal glucose tolerance who were positive for a single autoantibody, followed prospectively in the TrialNet Pathway to Prevention. Antibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase (GADA), insulin (IAA), insulinoma-associated antigen 2, and zinc transporter 8 and islet cell antibodies were tested every 6 to 12 months. The primary outcome was confirmed development of multiple autoantibodies. Age was categorized as <8 years, 8 to 11 years, 12 to 17 years, and ≥18 years, and optimal age breakpoints were identified by recursive partitioning analysis.
Results: After median follow-up of 2 years, 141 relatives had developed at least one additional autoantibodies. Five-year risk was inversely related to age, but the pattern differed by antibody type: Relatives with GADA showed a gradual decrease in risk over the four age groups, whereas relatives with IAA showed a sharp decrease above age 8 years. Recursive partitioning analysis identified age breakpoints at 14 years in relatives with GADA and at 4 years in relatives with IAA.
Conclusions: In relatives with IAA, spread of islet autoimmunity is largely limited to early childhood, whereas immune responses initially directed at glutamic acid decarboxylase can mature over a longer period. These differences have important implications for monitoring these patients and for designing prevention trials.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00097292.
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