Toxic Immunoglobulin Light Chain Autoantibodies are Associated with a Cluster of Severe Complications in Older Adult Type 2 Diabetes

J Endocrinol Diabetes. 2016;3(1):10.15226/2374-6890/3/1/00141. doi: 10.15226/2374-6890/3/1/00141. Epub 2016 Mar 8.


Aims: To assess neuronal depolarization evoked by autoantibodies in diabetic depression compared to depolarization evoked by autoantibodies in control patients. To determine whether a subset of severe (late-onset) diabetic complications may be mediated in part by toxic immunoglobulin light chains that may increase in diabetic nephropathy.

Methods: Protein-A eluates from plasma of 21 diabetic depression patients and 37 age-matched controls were tested for depolarization in hippocampal or immature neurons. Subsets of depolarizing or non-depolarizing autoantibodies were tested for neurite outgrowth inhibition in N2A neuroblastoma cells or the ability to modulate Ca2+ release in HL-1 atrial cardiomyocytes or in endothelial cells. The stability of depolarizing autoantibodies was investigated by heat treatment (56°C × 30 minutes) or following prolonged exposure to the pro-protein convertase, furin. Gel filtration of active depolarizing autoantibodies was performed to determine the apparent molecular mass of peak neurotoxicity associated with the autoantibodies.

Results: Diabetic depression (n = 21) autoantibodies caused significantly greater mean depolarization in neuroblastoma cells (P < 0.01) compared to autoantibodies in diabetic (n = 15) or non-diabetic (n = 11) patients without depression. Depolarizing autoantibodies caused significantly more (P=0.011) inhibition of neurite outgrowth in neuroblastoma cells than non-depolarizing autoantibodies (n = 10) and they evoked sustained, global intracellular Ca2+ release in atrial cardiomyocytes or in endothelial cells. A subset of older diabetic patients suffering with a cluster of nephropathy, non-ischemic cardiomyopathy and/or depression demonstrated the presence of stable light chain dimers having apparent MW of 46 kD and associated with peak neurotoxicity in neuroblastoma cells.

Conclusion: These data suggest that autoantibodies in older adult diabetic depression cause long-lasting depolarization in hippocampal neurons including adult dentate gyrus neural progenitor cells. The autoantibodies may impair adult dentate gyrus neurogenesis associated with treatment-refractory depression via several mechanisms including suppression of neurite outgrowth, and alteration of membrane excitability. Stable, toxic light chain autoantibody components may contribute to a cluster of severe (late-onset) complications characterized by dysfunction in highly vascularized tissues.

Keywords: Autoantibodies; Depression; Diabetes mellitus; Light chains; Nephropathy; Neural progenitor cells.