Islet Autoantibodies In Type 1 Diabetes


Presence of Islet Autoantibodies in Type 1 Diabetes Signifies an Autoimmune Etiology

In type 1 diabetes, autoantibodies appear when cells in the pancreas are damaged. They act as a marker that we can detect well before the beta cells (which are responsible for producing insulin) are with damage.

Islet Autoantibodies

Islet Autoantibodies in Type 1 Diabetes

In the pancreas, islet cells are responsible for secreting insulin (hormone controlling blood glucose level). Any foreign substance cannot enter into the cells because our immune system keeps on producing antibodies (proteins) that are capable of defending any foreign substance. These foreign bodies may be harmful, also called an antigen, which is nothing but bacteria and viruses.

Autoantibodies are antibodies that try to destroy their own healthy tissue. This is the basic difference between autoantibodies and antibodies. Hence, it may happen that autoantibodies by mistake can direct against the body organ or it may be unable to distinguish between the two.

In type 1 diabetes, autoantibodies disturb the normal functioning of the pancreas by attacking different cells in it. Moreover, the study is still going on to find the exact reason of autoantibodies attacking its own insulin-producing cells as it may help in preventing the disease from complications.

However, the study confirms that the patient diagnosed positive with the autoantibodies is sure to have the disease on the time being. Autoantibodies can develop again and at any time and hence if the patient is tested and diagnosed with negative reports, there are chances that it may trigger later on. But, if the patient has positive results, it may take years together to develop T1 Diabetes.

It is therefore frequently a suggestion by doctors to get the test for diagnosing autoantibodies so that DKA like complexities and constant medications and hospitalization do not happen.

Types Of Autoantibodies In Type 1 Diabetes

Islet Autoantibodies in Type 1 Diabetes

Islet Cell Autoantibodies (ICA): The antibodies that target islet cells namely beta, alpha, delta, and epsilon cells are the ICA. Consequently, the Majority of the people with Type 1 Diabetes are with these antibodies.

Insulin Autoantibodies (IAA): This antibody targets only insulin that is very specific for beta cells and in this case the body is allergic to insulin. 50% of the people with T1D are with these autoantibodies.

Glutamic acid Decarboxylase Autoantibodies (GADA): In order to function efficiently, our pancreas seek help from enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase. Thus, considering these enzymes as a foreign object, the antibodies target them. Hence these antibodies are Glutamic acid Decarboxylase Autoantibodies.

These antibodies are present in the majority of T1D patients generally after adolescence.

Insulinoma-associated-protein-2 Autoantibodies (IA-2A): This autoantibody targets a particular protein that is present in beta cells. Along with this, the antibody targets zinc transporters which are responsible for regulating cellular zinc homeostasis.

Zinc-transporter 8 Autoantibodies (ZnT8A):  It is also an autoantigen occurring in Type 1 Diabetes. Moreover, these antibodies are recently discovered. Zinc-transporter-8 is the protein in the beta cells in the pancreas. Therefore in a type 1 patient, its diagnosis was an autoantigen.

A study on ZnT8A is not yet finished as the researchers are aiming in estimating and finding the predominance of ZnT8A in Type 1 patients and also it’s utility as a marker.

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