Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults


Address for correspondence: Mona Landin-Olsson, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Diabetology and Endocrinology, University Hospital, S-221 85 Lund, Sweden. Voice: 46-46-171000; fax: 46-46-2110908;


Abstract: Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) is a special form of diabetes that is clinically similar to type 2 diabetes but with positivity for pancreatic autoantibodies. The frequency of LADA patients among all patients diagnosed as type 2 varies between 6-50% in various populations. The frequency is higher in younger age groups. It is clear, however, that the frequency of autoimmune diabetes among adults is underestimated. Clinical features such as age and severity of symptoms are of no help in identifying these patients. Body mass index and C peptide levels in the general population increase with age, and these parameters are of limited use in identifying LADA patients. Determination of autoantibodies is necessary in order to correctly classify the type of diabetes. Among antibodies, GADA is the most frequently occurring autoantibody, followed by ICA. The natural course of these patients shows that C peptide will decrease with time in parallel with the curve for C peptide in classical type 1 diabetic patients. Most of the LADA patients will require insulin within three years. Our recommendation is that all patients be tested for pancreatic islet autoantibodies at diagnosis of diabetes to enable correct diagnosis and to avoid future failure of hypoglycemic agents and risk of complications due to hyperglycemia. It is still unclear whether early treatment with insulin is beneficial for the remaining beta cells.