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Diabet Med. 2017 Aug;34(8):1145-1153. doi: 10.1111/dme.13358. Epub 2017 May 22.

Glutamic acid decarboxylase and islet antigen 2 antibody profiles in people with adult-onset diabetes mellitus: a comparison between mixed ethnic populations in Singapore and Germany.

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Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University Singapore, Singapore.
Clinical Research Unit, Diabetes Centre, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore.
Department of Endocrinology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore.
Imperial College London, London, UK.
Department of Internal Medicine 1, Ulm University Medical Centre, Ulm, Germany.



To gain insight into the presence of islet cell autoimmunity in an ethnic Asian compared with a white European population.


For this cross-sectional study we recruited people with adult-onset diabetes (age of diagnosis 20-60 years), at tertiary referral centres in Germany (n=1020) and Singapore (n=1088). Glutamic acid decarboxylase and islet antigen 2 antibodies were measured according to Islet Autoantibody Standardization Program protocols.


The prevalence of glutamic acid decarboxylase antibody positivity was 13.9% (95% CI 12.1-16.0; P<0.001) in the white European cohort compared with 6.8% (95% CI 5.5-8.4; P<0.001) in the Asian cohort. Glutamic acid decarboxylase antibody positivity was 11.4% (95% CI 7.7-16.6) in Indian, 6.0% (95% CI 3.6-9.9) in Malay and 5.8% (95% CI 4.3-7.7; P<0.001) in Chinese participants. In the white European participants, the prevalence of islet antigen 2 antibody positivity was 7.8% (95% CI 6.4-9.4) compared with 14.8% (95% CI 12.8-17.0; P<0.001) in the Asian cohort as a whole, and among the three ethnicities in the Asian cohort it was 12.4% (95% CI 8.6-17.7) in Indian, 16.8% (95% CI 12.6-22.2) in Malay and 15.7% (95% CI 13.2-18.6) in Chinese participants. Double antibody positivity was seen in 5.7% (95% CI 4.5-7.1) of white European participants compared with 1.6% (95% CI 1.0-2.5; P<0.01) of Asian participants. In the white European cohort, those who were glutamic acid decarboxylase autoantibody-positive had a lower BMI than those who were autoantibody-negative, but this trend was absent in the Asian cohort.


A marked prevalence of islet cell autoimmunity was observed in people with adult-onset diabetes. While glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies were more frequent in the European cohort, islet antigen 2 antibody positivity was highest in the three ethnic groups in Singapore, suggesting ethnic-specific differences in antibody profiles.

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