University of Oulu

Characterization of the humoral immune response to the beta-cell antigens insulin and glutamic acid decarboxylase in preclinical and clinical type 1 diabetes

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Author: Ronkainen, Matti1,2
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Paediatrics
2University of Helsinki, Hospital for Children and Adolescents
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2005
Publish Date: 2005-08-02
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium 12 of the Department of Paediatrics, Oulu University Hospital, on August 12th, 2005, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Docent Ari Hinkkanen
Docent Päivi Keskinen


The characteristics of humoral immunity have been proposed to reflect the bias between two T helper (Th) lymphocyte subsets: Th1 cells, which activate cell-mediated immunity, and Th2 cells, which mediate humoral immunity. The present study aimed to characterize the humoral immunity to beta-cell autoantigens insulin and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65) in preclinical and clinical type 1 diabetes.

Insulin antibodies were analyzed in pregnant women with or without type 1 diabetes and their newborn infants and in prediabetic children. Epitope or/and isotype-specific GAD65 antibodies (GAD65Abs) were analyzed in prediabetic children, in children and adolescents diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and in patients with the autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy (APECED) syndrome. Antibodies were determined by radioligand immunoassays.

The humoral immune response to insulin and GAD65 was observed to be a highly dynamic process, comprising mainly the IgG1 subclass and, less frequently, other IgG subclasses. GAD65Abs were directed primarily to the middle region and secondarily to the C-terminal region of GAD65 as a consequence of epitope spreading. Young children who progressed to overt type 1 diabetes were characterized by a broad initial isotype response to insulin and GAD65 and by a strong IgG1 and IgG3 response to insulin. Children who did not progress to clinical type 1 diabetes were characterized by an emerging IgG4 response to GAD65. Rising levels of GAD65Abs targeted to the middle region of GAD65 were associated with high titers of islet cell antibodies and a decreased requirement for exogenous insulin, probably reflecting a persistent residual beta-cell mass, in patients with manifest type 1 diabetes. Non-immunoglobulin insulin-binding activity was observed to be induced by pregnancy. APECED-associated humoral autoimmunity to GAD65 did not differ markedly from that observed in subjects with type 1 diabetes alone.

In conclusion, isotype-specific GAD65 and especially insulin antibodies are valuable markers of the risk of progression to type 1 diabetes in young children. The appearance of an initial IgG3 subclass response and a strong IgG3 response to insulin in children who progressed to overt type 1 diabetes may reflect the role of cytotoxic Th1-biased immunity in the disease process leading to clinical presentation of type 1 diabetes.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. D, Medica
ISSN-E: 1796-2234
ISBN: 951-42-7780-5
ISBN Print: 951-42-7779-1
Issue: 839
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2005. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.