Anticardiolipin antibodies were determined in 29 diabetic children and adolescents, aged 3.9-26.8 years, with disease duration from 1 month to 19 years. Anti-islet cell antibodies (ICA-IgG and CF-ICA), anti-insulin antibodies (IAA), antithyroid antibodies and non organ-specific (NOSA) antibodies were also determined. Patients were grouped according to insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) duration: group I (n = 11) < 6 months, and group II (n = 18) > 5 years. Eleven of group II patients showed precocious signs of micro-angiopathic complications. Forty-two age- and sex-matched healthy subjects served as controls. IgG and IgM anticardiolipin antibodies were evaluated by ELISA and their results expressed as arbitrary units (AU). IgG anticardiolipin antibodies were found in 7 patients (24%), while IgM anticardiolipin antibodies were absent in all. IgG anticardiolipin antibodies were more frequent in IDDM patients than in controls (P < 0.005) and group I (in 6 out of 11 patients; 54.5%) than in group II (in 1 out of 18 patients; 5.5%) (P < 0.025). In five out of six group I patients with IgG anticardiolipin antibodies, ICA-IgG and/or CF-ICA were also found. No correlation was observed between anticardiolipin and other auto-antibodies, micro-angiopathic complications, and HLA typing.
Conclusion: Anticardiolipin antibodies may reflect an abnormal immunological response in the early stage of diabetes mellitus and represent a transient auto-immune phenomenon.