Proteins as an early warning system for type 1 diabetes?

November 7, 2016, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
The presence of certain proteins in blood samples can predict incipient type 1 diabetes. The researchers identify these in their measurements using so-called peptide peaks (see selection in red). Credit: Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

Certain proteins in the blood of children can predict incipient type 1 diabetes, even before the first symptoms appear. A team of scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, partners in the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), reported these findings in the Diabetologia journal.

The work was based on two large studies that are intended to explain the mechanisms behind the development of type 1 diabetes (BABYDIAB and BABYDIET). The study participants are children who have a first-degree relative with type 1 diabetes and who consequently have an increased risk of developing the disease due to the familial predisposition. This autoimmune process does not develop from one day to the next, however: Often the young patients go through longer asymptomatic preliminary stages that see the formation of the first antibodies against the child's own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas; these are the so-called autoantibodies. Biomarkers that indicate whether and when this is the case and how quickly the clinical symptoms will appear could significantly improve the treatment of patients at-risk.

A team of scientists, led by Dr. Stefanie Hauck, head of the Research Unit Protein Science and the Core Facility Proteomics, and Prof. Dr. Anette-G. Ziegler, Director of the Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, analyzed from 30 children with autoantibodies who had developed type 1 diabetes either very rapidly or with a very long delay. The researchers compared the data with data on children who displayed neither autoantibodies nor diabetes symptoms. In a second step with samples from another 140 children, the researchers confirmed the protein composition differences that they found in this approach.

New biomarkers for diagnosis

"Altogether, we were able to identify 41 peptides from 26 proteins that distinguish children with autoantibodies from those without," reports Dr. Christine von Toerne, a scientist in the Research Unit Protein Science who shared first authorship of the work with Michael Laimighofer, a doctoral candidate in Jan Krumsiek's junior research group at the Institute of Computational Biology. Striking in their evaluations: A large number of these proteins are associated with lipid metabolism. "Two peptides—from the proteins apolipoprotein M and apolipoprotein C-IV—were particularly conspicuous and were especially differently expressed in the two groups," von Toerne adds. In autoantibody-positive children, it was furthermore possible to reach a better estimate of the speed of the diabetes development using the peptide concentrations of three proteins (hepatocyte growth factor activator, complement factor H and ceruloplasmin) in combination with the age of the particular child.

The researchers are confident that the protein signatures they have discovered will be helpful as biomarkers for future diagnostics. "The progression of type 1 diabetes into a clinical disease takes place over a period of time that varies from individual to individual and that at this time is insufficiently predictable," explains Prof. Ziegler. "The biomarkers that we have identified allow a more precise classification of this presymptomatic stage and they are relatively simple to acquire from blood samples."

Explore further: How does friendly fire happen in the pancreas?

More information: Christine von Toerne et al, Peptide serum markers in islet autoantibody-positive children, Diabetologia (2016). DOI: 10.1007/s00125-016-4150-x

Related Stories

How does friendly fire happen in the pancreas?

October 21, 2016
In type 1 diabetes, the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells. Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München, partner in the German Center for Diabetes Research, and their colleagues at Technical University of Munich have ...

New immune cell subset associated with progression to type 1 diabetes

October 11, 2016
A study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland revealed that a recently described T cell subset may have a central role in the development of type 1 diabetes. These so called follicular T helper cells were found to ...

Type 1 diabetes: Vitamin D deficiency occurs in an early stage

February 27, 2014
Vitamin D is known as a major regulator of calcium levels and bone metabolism. Furthermore, it also influences the immune system. Previous studies have shown that patients with recently diagnosed type 1 diabetes have significantly ...

Risk of T1DM up in children with autoantibody reversion

June 21, 2016
(HealthDay)—The risk of type 1 diabetes remains elevated for children who have developed multiple β-cell autoantibodies, even after reversion of individual autoantibodies, according to a study published online June 16 ...

Type 1 diabetes: Gut microbiota networks may influence autoimmune processes

March 12, 2014
The interactions of the gut microbiota in children with typical diabetes autoantibodies differ from that in healthy children. The fact that these differences already exist before antibodies are detectable in the blood adds ...

More diabetes-associated, non-associated autoantibodies in T1D

September 6, 2016
(HealthDay)—Patients with type 1 diabetes have more diabetes-associated autoantibodies (DAAs) and non-DAAs than patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published online Aug. 29 in Diabetes Care.

Recommended for you

Physical exercise reduces risk of developing diabetes: study

February 20, 2018
Exercising more reduces the risk of diabetes and could see seven million fewer diabetic patients across mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to new research.

Researchers find existing drug effective at preventing onset of type 1 diabetes

February 15, 2018
A drug commonly used to control high blood pressure may also help prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes in up to 60 percent of those at risk for the disease, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz ...

Chemist designs diabetic treatment minus harmful side effects

February 9, 2018
A chemist in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) has figured out how to control glucose levels in the bloodstream without the usual side effects of nausea, vomiting or malaise.

Peptide improves glucose and insulin sensitivity, lowers weight in mice

February 8, 2018
Treating obese mice with catestatin (CST), a peptide naturally occurring in the body, showed significant improvement in glucose and insulin tolerance and reduced body weight, report University of California San Diego School ...

Study reports use of nutritional ketosis with mobile app intervention could reverse Type 2 diabetes

February 7, 2018
A newly published study has shown that an individualized approach to nutritional ketosis (utilizing fat rather than glucose to fuel the body), combined with remote monitoring via a mobile application, could sustainably and ...

Simple molecule could prevent, alleviate pre-diabetes

February 7, 2018
Restoring levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ), a key molecule in energy production in cells, could overcome insulin resistance or pre-diabetes—a precursor to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.