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Pathogenesis of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

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Department of Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is strongly associated with certain HLA types and the presence of islet cell-specific autoantibodies. The pathogenesis is a specific loss of pancreatic beta cells. The dissection of IDDM genes is complicated by the low recurrence rate of the disease among first-degree relatives. HLA-DQ2 and 8 are closest to IDDM with a marked synergistic effect of DQ2/8 heterozygotes. The associations with other HLA genes are often explained by linkage disequilibrium. Genetic factors on other chromosomes which influence the pathogenesis are still to be fully identified but candidates are on chromosomes 11 (insulin gene polymorphisms) and 7 (TCR gene polymorphisms). The autoreactivity against the GAD65 isoform is pronounced both before and at the clinical onset of IDDM. GAD65 autoantibodies show the highest predictive value and may represent an initiating autoantigen. Autoantibodies to numerous other beta cell autoantigens are detected at the clinical onset but may represent a secondary response and antigen spreading during a sustained autoimmune attack on the beta cells. The role of T cells in human IDDM is yet to be defined. GAD65 and other islet autoantibodies have a low positive predictive value for IDDM and further investigations are needed to clarify ways to predict IDDM in the general population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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