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Circulation. 2019 Feb 5;139(6):730-743. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.036068.

Glycemic Control, Cardiac Autoimmunity, and Long-Term Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.

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Research Division, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA (G.R.S., D.P., A.G., H.L., A.D., M.A.L.).
Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA (G.R.S., H.L., A.D., M.A.L.).
Department of Pediatrics, Yale University, New Haven, CT (A.G.).
Department of Women and Children's Health, University of Padova, Italy (A.G.).
Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora (L.Y.).
Laboratory of Genetics and Molecular Cardiology, Heart Institute, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil (A.C.P.).
Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, University of Missouri-Kansas City (M.K.).



Poor glycemic control is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM); however, little is known about mechanisms specific to T1DM. In T1DM, myocardial injury can induce persistent cardiac autoimmunity. Chronic hyperglycemia causes myocardial injury, raising the possibility that hyperglycemia-induced cardiac autoimmunity could contribute to long-term CVD complications in T1DM.


We measured the prevalence and profiles of cardiac autoantibodies (AAbs) in longitudinal samples from the DCCT (Diabetes Control and Complications Trial) in participants with mean hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) ≥9.0% (n=83) and ≤7.0% (n=83) during DCCT. We assessed subsequent coronary artery calcification (measured once during years 7-9 in the post-DCCT EDIC [Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications] observational study), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (measured during EDIC years 4-6), and CVD events (defined as nonfatal myocardial infarction, stroke, death resulting from CVD, heart failure, or coronary artery bypass graft) over a 26-year median follow-up. Cardiac AAbs were also measured in matched patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus with HbA1c ≥9.0% (n=70) and ≤7.0% (n=140) and, as a control for cardiac autoimmunity, patients with Chagas cardiomyopathy (n=51).


Apart from HbA1c levels, the DCCT groups shared similar CVD risk factors at the beginning and end of DCCT. The DCCT HbA1c ≥9.0% group showed markedly higher cardiac AAb levels than the HbA1c ≤7.0% group during DCCT, with a progressive increase and decrease in AAb levels over time in the 2 groups, respectively ( P<0.001). In the HbA1c ≥9.0% group, 46%, 22%, and 11% tested positive for ≥1, ≥2, and ≥3 different cardiac AAb types, respectively, similar to patients with Chagas cardiomyopathy, compared with 2%, 1%, and 0% in the HbA1c ≤7.0% group. Glycemic control was not associated with AAb prevalence in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Positivity for ≥2 AAbs during DCCT was associated with increased risk of CVD events (4 of 6; hazard ratio, 16.1; 95% CI, 3.0-88.2) and, in multivariable analyses, with detectable coronary artery calcification (13 of 31; odds ratio, 60.1; 95% CI, 8.4-410.0). Patients with ≥2 AAbs subsequently also showed elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels (6.0 mg/L versus 1.4 mg/L in patients with ≤1 AAbs; P=0.003).


Poor glycemic control is associated with cardiac autoimmunity in T1DM. Furthermore, cardiac AAb positivity is associated with an increased risk of CVD decades later, suggesting a role for autoimmune mechanisms in the development of CVD in T1DM, possibly through inflammatory pathways.


autoantibodies; biomarkers; cardiovascular diseases; diabetes mellitus; hyperglycemia

[Available on 2020-02-05]

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