Understanding Pre-Type 1 Diabetes: The Key to Prevention

Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2018 Mar 6;9:70. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2018.00070. eCollection 2018.


While the incidence of type 1 diabetes continues to rise by 3% each year, the ability to prevent this disease remains elusive. Hybrid closed loop devices, artificial pancreas systems, and continuous glucose monitoring technology have helped to ease the daily burden for many people living with type 1 diabetes. However, the artificial pancreas is not a cure; more research is needed to achieve our ultimate goal of preventing type 1 diabetes. The preceding decades have generated a wealth of information regarding the natural history of pre-type 1 diabetes. Islet autoimmunity in the form of multiple autoantibodies is known to be highly predictive of progression to disease. Staging systems have been devised to better characterize pre-type 1, direct mechanistic understanding of disease, and guide the design of prevention studies. However, there are no evidence-based recommendations for practitioners caring for autoantibody patients other than to encourage enrollment in research studies. Close monitoring of high-risk patients in natural history studies markedly reduces diabetic ketoacidosis rates at diagnosis and research participation is critical to finding a means of preventing type 1 diabetes. The discovery of an effective preventative strategy for type 1 diabetes will justify universal risk screening for all children.

Keywords: autoimmune diseases; mechanisms; prevention; staging; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review