Insulin autoantibodies (IAA) are established markers of Type 1 diabetes and are widely used for the prediction of this disease. Standard assays require relatively large serum volumes for reliable measurement of IAA, limiting their use in young children. We have developed a novel small volume assay which is suitable for screening large numbers of samples. For reasons of economy we have adopted a two-stage strategy in which all samples are screened for insulin binding and those with raised levels are quantified in an assay using competitive displacement. Using this assay 126 out of 241 (52%) newly diagnosed IDDM patients (median age 10.2, range 1.3-20.7 years) had IAA levels above the 99th centile of 2860 schoolchildren (median age 11.3, range 9.0-13.8 years), including 81 out of 117 (69%) patients below the age of 10 years. The assay compared well overall when measuring IAA in direct comparison with a conventional assay. We conclude that reliable measurement of IAA is possible on less than 50 microl of serum using this novel assay and that this should facilitate large scale screening, particularly in young children.
Copyright 1997 Academic Press Limited.