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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1994 Dec;79(6):1570-5.

Disproportionately elevated proinsulin levels precede the onset of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in siblings with low first phase insulin responses. The Childhood Diabetes in Finland Study Group.

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Steno Diabetes Center, Gentofte, Denmark.


The objective of this study was to test whether levels of proinsulin immunoreactivity (PIM) relative to those of insulin immunoreactivity (IRI) or C-peptide are changed and related to subclinical beta-cell dysfunction in siblings of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) patients. Twenty-three siblings, previously found positive for islet cell antibodies and/or insulin autoantibodies, were divided into 2 groups according to their first phase insulin response (FPIR) to i.v. glucose tolerance tests (IVGTTs) sequentially performed during an observation period of 2 yr. Eleven siblings had diminished FPIR on at least 1 occasion (group 1), whereas 12 siblings had a normal FPIR on all occasions studied (group 2). All underwent a further IVGTT (0.5 g glucose/kg BW), and serum samples were taken at 0, 1, 3, 6, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 min. The 2 groups had comparable median age, female/male ratio, weight, height, fasting blood glucose, immunoreactive insulin, C-peptide, and insulin autoantibodies levels, but group 1 had significantly higher islet cell antibodies levels. Fasting median PIM/IRI and PIM/C-peptide ratios were 2- to 3-fold higher in group 1 [10.5% (range, 1.8-93.8%) vs. 5.2% (range, 1.9-14.3%) and 3.3% (range, 0.4-23.1%) vs. 1.3% (range, 0.7-2.6%; P < 0.05]. Fasting PIM/C-peptide ratios correlated inversely with FPIRs (rs = -0.68; P < 0.01). During glucose stimulation, maximal responses of IRI and C-peptide were 4-fold lower in group 1, and the time of maximal responses of IRI and C-peptide occurred later in group 1 than in group 2. In contrast, no difference in maximal responses of PIM was found, but the time of maximal responses of PIM occurred later in group 1. Nine of 11 siblings in group 1 presented with IDDM 1-28 months after the test, compared to none in group 2. In group 1 a paradoxical inhibitory response of PIM was observed during the first 6 min of the IVGTT. These data indicate that fasting PIM/IRI and/or PIM/C-peptide ratio reflects subclinical beta-cell dysfunction in prediabetic subjects with evidence of immunological beta-cell assault and suggests that an elevated ratio may be an additional marker for later development of IDDM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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