Antibodies to bovine serum albumin (BSA) in type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders

Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 1997;105(2):86-91. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1211732.


Clinical and experimental studies have delineated a link between dietary cow milk protein and the development of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), and bovine serum albumin (BSA) was proposed as one candidate mediator of this effect. The demonstration of anti-BSA antibodies in new onset type 1-diabetic children from Finland initiated a controversial debate on the utility of BSA antibodies as a disease marker and on the role of BSA in IDDM. Here we analyzed BSA antibodies in newly diagnosed type 1-diabetic patients and their first degree relatives, patients with other autoimmune diseases, and children with Down's syndrome from Germany. Blinded serum samples (n = 308) were screened for IgG anti-BSA antibodies by particle concentration fluoroimmunoassay (PCFIA). The prevalence of elevated BSA antibodies in newly diagnosed type 1-diabetic patients was low (11%), although mean BSA antibody levels were significantly increased in diabetic patients as compared to controls (1.94 +/- 1.51 vs. 0.97 +/- 0.93 kFU, p < 0.0007). Mean BSA antibody levels were also increased in ICA+ and/or IAA+ first degree relatives (1.32 +/- 0.43, p < 0.002) and in children with Down's syndrome (3.01 +/- 1.93, p < 0.0007), but not in the other autoimmune disorders tested. The low prevalence of elevated anti-BSA levels in IDDM patients limits the clinical usefulness of this immune marker. We conclude that current anti-BSA assays do not substantially contribute to the prediction and diagnosis of IDDM.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / analysis*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology*
  • Diet
  • Down Syndrome / immunology
  • Female
  • Fluoroimmunoassay
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Male
  • Milk / immunology*
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / immunology*


  • Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine