Kaas A, Max Andersen ML, Fredheim S, Hougaard P, Buschard K, Petersen JS, de Beaufort C, Robertson KJ, Hansen L, Mortensen HB, Nielsen LB, On behalf of The Hvidoere Study Group on childhood diabetes. Proinsulin, GLP-1, and glucagon are associated with partial remission in children and adolescents with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes.
Objective: Proinsulin is a marker of beta-cell distress and dysfunction in type 2 diabetes and transplanted islets. Proinsulin levels are elevated in patients newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Our aim was to assess the relationship between proinsulin, insulin dose-adjusted haemoglobin A1c (IDAA1C), glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), glucagon, and remission status the first year after diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.
Methods: Juvenile patients (n = 275) were followed 1, 6, and 12 months after diagnosis. At each visit, partial remission was defined as IDAA1C ≤9%. The patients had a liquid meal test at the 1-, 6-, and 12-month visits, which included measurement of C-peptide, proinsulin, GLP-1, glucagon, and insulin antibodies (IA).
Results: Patients in remission at 6 and 12 months had significantly higher levels of proinsulin compared to non-remitting patients (p < 0.0001, p = 0.0002). An inverse association between proinsulin and IDAA1C was found at 1 and 6 months (p = 0.0008, p = 0.0022). Proinsulin was positively associated with C-peptide (p < 0.0001) and IA (p = 0.0024, p = 0.0068, p < 0.0001) at 1, 6, and 12 months. Glucagon (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.02) as well as GLP-1 (p = 0.0001 and p = 0.002) were significantly lower in remitters than in non-remitters at 6 and 12 months. Proinsulin associated positively with GLP-1 at 1 month (p = 0.004) and negatively at 6 (p = 0.002) and 12 months (p = 0.0002).
Conclusions: In type 1 diabetes, patients in partial remission have higher levels of proinsulin together with lower levels of GLP-1 and glucagon compared to patients not in remission. In new onset type 1 diabetes proinsulin level may be a sign of better residual beta-cell function.