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Recognition of zinc transporter 8 and MAP3865c homologous epitopes by new-onset type 1 diabetes children from continental Italy


There are several pieces of evidence indicating that Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) infection is linked to type 1 diabetes (T1D) in Sardinian patients. An association between MAP and T1D was recently observed in an Italian cohort of pediatric T1D individuals, characterized by a different genetic background. It is interesting to confirm the prevalence of anti-MAP antibodies (Abs) in another pediatric population from continental Italy, looking at several markers of MAP presence. New-onset T1D children, compared to age-matched healthy controls (HCs), were tested by indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the presence of Abs toward the immunodominant MAP3865c/ZnT8 homologues epitopes, the recently identified C-terminal MAP3865c281–287 epitope and MAP-specific protein MptD. Abs against MAP and ZnT8 epitopes were more prevalent in the sera of new-onset T1D children compared to HCs. These findings support the view that MAP3865c/ZnT8 cross-reactivity is involved in the pathogenesis of T1D, and addition of Abs against these peptides to the panel of existing T1D biomarkers should be considered. It is important now to investigate the timing of MAP infection during prospective follow-up in at-risk children to elucidate whether Ab-titers against these MAP/ZnT8 epitopes are present before T1D onset and if so if they wane after diagnosis.

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This research was supported by the Sardinian Region L.R.7 2009 and 2010 Progetti di ricerca di base, PRIN MIUR Programmi di Ricerca Scientifica di Rilevante Interesse Nazionale < Bando PRIN 2009 > Protocollo: 2009ZYECWZ and Italian Minister of Health, “Finalized Research” Protocollo: RF-2009-1545765, to LAS. LAS is the guarantor. The present publication was produced as part of the RAS research Project Number 10 selection code 06/A3-10 developed at Sassari University by Speranza Masala and supported by P.O.R. Sardinia F.S.E. 2007–2013, Axis IV human capitals, Line of Business l.3.1.

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No conflicts of interest related to the manuscript to declare.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional committee on human experimentation.

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Informed consent procedure does not apply as IHDR data are non identifiable.

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Correspondence to Leonardo Antonio Sechi.

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Communicated by Massimo Porta.

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Masala, S., Cossu, D., Piccinini, S. et al. Recognition of zinc transporter 8 and MAP3865c homologous epitopes by new-onset type 1 diabetes children from continental Italy. Acta Diabetol 51, 577–585 (2014).

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  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis
  • New-onset type 1 diabetes
  • Pediatrics
  • Zinc transporter 8