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Keywords:

  • Sulphatide;
  • islets of Langerhans;
  • diabetic nephropathy;
  • anti-sulphatide antibodies;
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

Clinical coincidence between diabetes and neurological disorders, and sharing of antigen determinants between islets of Langerhans and neural tissue, has been suggested. Sulphatide is a neural epitope which can be visualized with a monoclonal antibody Sulph I. Different tissues were examined by immunohistological methods. Sulphatide and anti-sulphatide antibodies were determined by thin-layer chromatographic techniques. IgG was isolated using protein A columns. A specific staining by Sulph I was found of rat islets, assigned to the secretory granules of both alpha and beta cells. No labelling of the exocrine tissue or other body tissues was seen, except for nerve and kidney structures. The latter showed staining of the distal tubules and, in addition, but only in the diabetic kidney, of glomeruli located in the subendothelial area in the capillary loops and the mesangial space. Sera from 38% of 40 spontaneously diabetic BB rats displayed anti-sulphatide antibodies, mainly IgG, whereas all 30 control Lewis rats were negative. Most recently we have demonstrated anti-sulphatide antibodies in 88% of 57 patients with newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes (titres of > 1:400); all 135 healthy control persons were negative. The sulphatide antibody reactivity was present in the IgG fractions of the patients' sera. Thus, sulphatide is demonstrated in islets of Langerhans and in kidney related to the diabetic lesion, and, furthermore, anti-sulphatide antibodies exist in Type 1 diabetes mellitus.