Diabet. Med. 28, 1028–1033 (2011)
Aim Maturity-onset diabetes of the young is a monogenic form of familial, young-onset diabetes. It is rare (∼1% diabetes) and may be misdiagnosed as Type 1 diabetes and inappropriately treated with insulin. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by the presence of islet autoantibodies, including glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) and islet antigen-2 (IA-2) antibodies. The prevalence of islet autoantibodies is unknown in maturity-onset diabetes of the young and may have the potential to differentiate this form of diabetes from Type 1 diabetes. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of GAD and IA-2 antibodies in patients with maturity-onset diabetes of the young and Type 1 diabetes.
Methods We measured plasma GAD and IA-2 antibodies in 508 patients with the most common forms of maturity-onset diabetes of the young (GCK: n = 227; HNF1A: n = 229; HNF4A: n = 52) and 98 patients with newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes (diagnosed < 6 months). Autoantibodies were considered positive if ≥ 99th centile of 500 adult control subjects.
Results GAD and/or IA-2 antibodies were present in 80/98 (82%) patients with Type 1 diabetes and 5/508 (< 1%) patients with maturity-onset diabetes of the young. In the cohort with Type 1 diabetes, both GAD and IA-2 antibodies were detected in 37.8% of patients, GAD only in 24.5% and IA-2 only in 19.4%. All five patients with maturity-onset diabetes of the young with detectable antibodies had GAD antibodies and none had detectable IA-2 antibodies.
Conclusion The prevalence of GAD and IA-2 antibodies in maturity-onset diabetes of the young is the same as in control subjects (< 1%). The finding of islet autoantibodies, especially IA-2 antibodies, makes the diagnosis of maturity-onset diabetes of the young very unlikely and genetic testing should only be performed if other clinical characteristics strongly suggest this form of diabetes rather than Type 1 diabetes. This supports routine islet autoantibody testing before proceeding to more expensive molecular genetic testing.