In type 1 diabetes, diabetes-associated autoantibodies, including islet cell antibodies (ICAs), reflect adaptive immunity, while increased serum Nε-carboxymethyl-lysine (CML), an advanced glycation end product, is associated with proinflammation. We assessed whether serum CML and autoantibodies predicted type 1 diabetes and to what extent they were determined by genetic or environmental factors. Of 7,287 unselected schoolchildren screened, 115 were ICA+ and were tested for baseline CML and diabetes autoantibodies and followed (for median 7 years), whereas a random selection (n = 2,102) had CML tested. CML and diabetes autoantibodies were determined in a classic twin study of twin pairs discordant for type 1 diabetes (32 monozygotic, 32 dizygotic pairs). CML was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, autoantibodies were determined by radioimmunoprecipitation, ICA was determined by indirect immunofluorescence, and HLA class II genotyping was determined by sequence-specific oligonucleotides. CML was increased in ICA+ and prediabetic schoolchildren and in diabetic and nondiabetic twins (all P < 0.001). Elevated levels of CML in ICA+ children were a persistent, independent predictor of diabetes progression, in addition to autoantibodies and HLA risk. In twins model fitting, familial environment explained 75% of CML variance, and nonshared environment explained all autoantibody variance. Serum CML, a glycotoxin, emerged as an environmentally determined diabetes risk factor, in addition to autoimmunity and HLA genetic risk, and a potential therapeutic target.
- Received July 12, 2011.
- Accepted January 20, 2012.
- © 2012 by the American Diabetes Association.
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