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J Endocrinol Diabetes. 2016;3(1). doi: 10.15226/2374-6890/3/1/00141. Epub 2016 Mar 8.

Toxic Immunoglobulin Light Chain Autoantibodies are Associated with a Cluster of Severe Complications in Older Adult Type 2 Diabetes.

Author information

Medical Service (111), Veterans Affairs New Jersey Healthcare System, East Orange & Lyons, NJ, USA.
Division of Endocrinology, Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Rutgers - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ, USA.
Molecular Resource Facility, Rutgers - New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA.



To assess neuronal depolarization evoked by autoantibodies in diabetic depression compared to depolarization evoked by autoantibodies in control patients. To determine whether a subset of severe (late-onset) diabetic complications may be mediated in part by toxic immunoglobulin light chains that may increase in diabetic nephropathy.


Protein-A eluates from plasma of 21 diabetic depression patients and 37 age-matched controls were tested for depolarization in hippocampal or immature neurons. Subsets of depolarizing or non-depolarizing autoantibodies were tested for neurite outgrowth inhibition in N2A neuroblastoma cells or the ability to modulate Ca2+ release in HL-1 atrial cardiomyocytes or in endothelial cells. The stability of depolarizing autoantibodies was investigated by heat treatment (56°C × 30 minutes) or following prolonged exposure to the pro-protein convertase, furin. Gel filtration of active depolarizing autoantibodies was performed to determine the apparent molecular mass of peak neurotoxicity associated with the autoantibodies.


Diabetic depression (n = 21) autoantibodies caused significantly greater mean depolarization in neuroblastoma cells (P < 0.01) compared to autoantibodies in diabetic (n = 15) or non-diabetic (n = 11) patients without depression. Depolarizing autoantibodies caused significantly more (P=0.011) inhibition of neurite outgrowth in neuroblastoma cells than non-depolarizing autoantibodies (n = 10) and they evoked sustained, global intracellular Ca2+ release in atrial cardiomyocytes or in endothelial cells. A subset of older diabetic patients suffering with a cluster of nephropathy, non-ischemic cardiomyopathy and/or depression demonstrated the presence of stable light chain dimers having apparent MW of 46 kD and associated with peak neurotoxicity in neuroblastoma cells.


These data suggest that autoantibodies in older adult diabetic depression cause long-lasting depolarization in hippocampal neurons including adult dentate gyrus neural progenitor cells. The autoantibodies may impair adult dentate gyrus neurogenesis associated with treatment-refractory depression via several mechanisms including suppression of neurite outgrowth, and alteration of membrane excitability. Stable, toxic light chain autoantibody components may contribute to a cluster of severe (late-onset) complications characterized by dysfunction in highly vascularized tissues.


Autoantibodies; Depression; Diabetes mellitus; Light chains; Nephropathy; Neural progenitor cells

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest The authors report no conflict of interest that would affect the objectivity of the present findings.

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