Early onset of diabetes in the proband is the major determinant of risk in HLA DR3-DQ2/DR4-DQ8 siblings

  1. Polly J Bingley
  1. Diabetes and Metabolism, School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, UK
  1. *Corresponding author: KM Gillespie, e-mail:K.M.Gillespie{at}


Islet autoimmunity is initiated in infancy, and primary prevention trials require children at high genetic risk to be identified before autoantibodies appear. To inform screening strategies, we evaluated risks of autoimmunity and diabetes associated with HLA DR3-DQ2/DR4-DQ8 in UK families. Extended HLA haplotypes were determined in 2,134 siblings from the Bart’s-Oxford Study followed to median age 22 years. Risks of diabetes and islet autoimmunity (≥ 2 antibodies) were estimated by survival analysis. Of 138 informative DR3-DQ2/DR4-DQ8 siblings, 63% shared both haplotypes with their diabetic proband, 29% shared one and 8% neither. In HLA-identical DR3-DQ2/DR4-DQ8 siblings, the cumulative risk of diabetes by age 15 was 17% (vs. 6% in those sharing one haplotype or none, p=0.095). Risk varied, however, with diabetes age-at-onset in the proband; the cumulative risk of autoimmunity and/or diabetes by age 15 was 61% in siblings of probands diagnosed below age 10 years compared with only 4.7% in those diagnosed after age 10 years (p<0.001), and proband age-at-diagnosis, but not HLA haplotype sharing, was an independent determinant of sibling risk. This suggests that non-HLA genes or epigenetic/environmental factors that accelerate progression of type 1 diabetes in the proband impact strongly on risk in siblings.

  • Received June 25, 2013.
  • Accepted November 3, 2013.

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