Islet cell and glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies present at diagnosis of diabetes predict the need for insulin treatment: A cohort study in young adults whose disease was initially labeled as type 2 or unclassifiable diabetes

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OBJECTIVE - To clarify the predictive value of islet cell antibody (ICA) and GAD65 antibody (GADA) present at diagnosis with respect to the need for insulin treatment 6 years after diagnosis in young adults initially considered to have type 2 or unclassifiable diabetes. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - The patient material was representative of the entire Swedish population, consisting of patients who were 15-34 years old at diagnosis of diabetes in 1987-1988 but were not considered to have type 1 diabetes at onset. At follow-up, 6 years after the diagnosis, it was noted whether the patient was treated with insulin. The presence of ICA was determined by an immunofluorescence assay, and GADAs were measured by a radioligand assay. RESULTS - Six years after diagnosis, 70 of 97 patients were treated with insulin, and 27 of 97 patients were treated with oral drugs or diet alone. At diagnosis, ICAs and GADAs were present in 41 (59%) of 70 patients and 41 (60%) of 68 patients, respectively, of those now treated with insulin, compared with only 1 (4%) of 26 patients and 2 (7%) of 27 patients who were still not treated with insulin. For either ICA or GADA, the corresponding frequencies were 50 (74%) of 68 for patients who were later treated with insulin and 3 (12%) of 26 for those who were still not treated with insulin, respectively The sensitivity for later insulin treatment was highest (74%) for the presence of ICA or GADA, and the specificity was highest (100%) for ICA and GADA. The positive predictive value was 100% for the combination of ICA and GADA, 98% for ICA alone, and ~95% for GADA alone. CONCLUSIONS - Determination of the presence of ICA and GADA at diagnosis of diabetes improves the classification of diabetes and predicts the future need of insulin in young adults.


  • Bengt Littorin
  • Goran Sundkvist
  • William Hagopian
  • Mona Landin-Olsson
  • Åke Lernmark
  • Jan Östman
  • Hans J. Arnqvist
  • Goran Blohme
  • Jan Bolinder
  • Jan W. Eriksson
  • Folke Lithner
  • Bengt Scherstén
  • Lars Wibell
External organisations
  • University of Washington
  • University of Washington, Seattle
  • Karolinska University Hospital
  • Linköping University
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Norrland University Hospital
  • Uppsala University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Endocrinology and Diabetes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-412
JournalDiabetes Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch