Antiislet autoantibodies usually develop sequentially rather than simultaneously

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996 Dec;81(12):4264-7. doi: 10.1210/jcem.81.12.8954025.


The goal of this study was to address whether antiislet autoantibodies appear sequentially or simultaneously before the onset of type I diabetes. We analyzed sequential serum samples from 155 siblings and offspring (aged < 7 yr) of patients with type I diabetes from the Denver Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young study and from a separate group of first degree relatives (aged 2-40 yr) for autoantibodies reacting with three defined autoantigens: glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65), insulin, and ICA512/IA-2. The youngest age at which 1 of the 3 autoantibodies appeared was 1.1 yr, and the oldest was 60.9 yr. Of the total 26 autoantibody conversion events observed, in only 3 instances did more than 1 autoantibody appear simultaneously. Among individuals (n = 12) with sequential conversion to expression of multiple autoantibodies, anti-GAD65 autoantibodies or antiinsulin autoantibodies appeared first (4 expressed antiinsulin autoantibodies first, and 8 anti-GAD65 autoantibodies first). We conclude that antiislet autoantibodies usually appear sequentially and not simultaneously. This corroborates early suggestions that humoral autoimmunity to islets develops chronically in a process usually measured in months to years. As expression of multiple autoantibodies is associated with a high risk of progression to diabetes, and sequential appearance of autoantibodies can occur late in life, long term follow-up is necessary to fully delineate the relationship of diabetes risk to autoantibody expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Autoantibodies / biosynthesis*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Islets of Langerhans / immunology*
  • Middle Aged


  • Autoantibodies