, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 605-622

Genetic control of autoimmunity in Type I diabetes and associated disorders

Abstract

Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus is a heterogeneous disease with major subdivisions termed Type 1A (immune-mediated) and Type 1B. Immune-mediated diabetes is also heterogeneous with “monogenic”, oligogenic, and polygenic forms present in humans and in animal models. Single-gene mutations of two transcription factors have been recently identified in rare syndromes of autoimmunity with type 1A diabetes: autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 1 (APS-1) and X-linked polyendocrinopathy, immune dysfunction and diarrhoea (XPID). For more common forms of diabetes, susceptibility loci within the major histocompatibility complex and at the insulin locus have been identified. Both DQ* and DR* alleles provide susceptibility and certain alleles dominant protection. In the Diabetes Autoimmunity Study of the Young approximately 50 % of the siblings studied with the highest-risk HLA genotype develop anti-islet autoantibodies by age 3. Insulin could be a crucial autoantigen related to genetic susceptibility. The crystal structure of the high-risk allele, HLA-DQ8, complexed with an insulin peptide has just been reported. Insulin production by macrophage-dendritic cells within the thymus and lymphoid organs could underlie insulin gene polymorphisms influencing the risk of diabetes. Genome-wide scans for linkage in animal models and in humans have not conclusively identified other susceptibility genes though many loci have been implicated. We favour the hypothesis that HLA is a major determinant of susceptibility in animal models and in most families, and that the search for diabetogenes should concentrate on unique families to decrease heterogeneity and favour the eventual discovery of genes influencing risk. [Diabetologia (2002) 45: ▪–▪]

Received: 18 June 2001 and in revised form: 17 December 2001