Autoimmune insulitis in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus
A randomized clinical trial in hospitalized patients

Authors: Emil Martinka;  Mariana Rončáková;  Michaela Mišaníková;  Arash Davani
Authors‘ workplace: Národný endokrinologický a diabetologický ústav, n. o., Ľubochňa, Slovenská republika
Published in: Vnitř Lék 2016; 62(7-8): 521-533
Category: Original Contributions


It is not always easy to classify diabetes (DM) diagnosed in adults, with a significant group of patients initially classified and treated for type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2T) presenting signs indicating the presence of autoimmune insulitis (AI), which is characteristic of type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM1T), or latent autoimmune diabetes mellitus in adults (LADA).

Identify the proportion of patients entered with DM2T who present AI signs, and the number of patients of that proportion, who at the same time present low insulin secretion, and what clinical and laboratory manifestations could be used to differentiate between these patients.

Cohort and methods:
A randomized clinical trial with a pre-determined set of assessed parameters for n = 625 patients, who were hospitalized during the first 6 months of 2016 at the National Endocrinology and Diabetology Institute (NEDU), Lubochna. Apart from the standard parameters, C-peptide (CP) and autoantibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase (GADA) were examined for each patient. GADA positive (GADA+) patients were compared to GADA negative (GADA-) patients in the following parameters: gender, age, age at the time of dia­gnosing DM, duration of DM, HbA1c, incidence of hypoglycemia, lipidogram, fasting C-peptide levels, BMI, waist circumference, incidence of hypoglycemias, presence of microvascular and macrovascular complications, treatment of dia­betes and incidence of other endocrinopathies. GADA+ with low CP were subsequently compared to GADA+ patients with normal CP.

Of 625 patients originally classified and treated as DM2T, 13 % were GADA+. 31 % of them had low CP (< 0.2 nmol/l) and 28 % had CP levels within the intermediary range (0.2–0.4 nmol/l). Females made up a larger proportion of GADA+ patients, with a lower BMI, smaller waist circumference, lower CP, higher HDL cholesterol levels, a greater incidence of hypoglycemias and lower total daily dose of insulin. GADA+ patients with low CP differed from GADA+ patients with normal CP in higher HDL cholesterol levels, lower triglyceride levels and earlier need of insulin thera­py. The testing for GADA and CP levels with regard to the other relevant characteristics led to re-classification, or more precisely adding of DM1T/LADA (as the main, or parallel cause of DM) for 2.9 % of all the patients included and a clinically significant proportion of AI could be assumed in 6.1 % of the patients.

The results of our study show that the pathogenesis of DM in patients initially diagnosed and registered with DM2T and with concurrent presence of GADA includes mechanisms characteristic of both DM2T (insulin resistance) and DM1T (autoimmune insulitis) acting in parallel, with different intensity, in differing proportions and time sequence as a fluid continuum, which also accounts for the differences between individual patients. The characteristics highlighting the presence and role of AI based on our results include high titre of GADA+, low CP levels, early need of insulin therapy, presence of thyroid disorder, higher HDL cholesterol levels and lower triglyceride levels. The characteristics highlighting the dominance of mechanisms characteristic of DM2T (insulin resistance) included higher BMI and waist circumference values, normal CP levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, higher triglyceride levels, higher blood pressure and borderline titre of GADA.

Key words:
autoimmune diabetes mellitus – C-peptide – GADA – HDL-cholesterol – classification


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