From Overland Park, Kansas, USA:
My daughter (age 10) was diagnosed with diabetes last year. She is handling the situation very well. The doctors then had our son (age 7) and daughter (age 5) tested for ICA antibodies. Our son's test was positive. What does this mean? And what is the likelihood of him having diabetes? How much time?
Autoimmune Type 1A diabetes is a chronic disorder of the immune system which nowadays we known to start even many years before it is clinically detected. Over this lag time, beta cells of the pancreas of genetically prone subjects are actually destroyed and ICA (Islet Cell Autoantibodies) and other related autoantibodies, such as IAA, GADA and IA2, are seen as the serological markers of this lymphocyte-mediated process, eventually leading towards clinical diabetes.
Therefore, these can indicate if there is a probability of getting diabetes in the future: in fact, symptoms of the disease only appear at the end when 10-20% of the islet cells are left producing insulin. However, reliable estimates of risk for a first degree relative such as your son, depends on either the titer of ICA or, much better, the positivity to the other related autoantibodies plus the HLA antigen subtypes your son carries. At this time, there is no sure way of calculating your son's probabilities more precisely unless your son' HLA typing is performed.
There are several studies in progress in Europe and North America (DPT-1, ENDIT) to find out if the diabetes can be prevented or averted in high risk individuals by some form of scavenger therapy or some form of "vaccination".
I hope it gives you a glimpse of a complex and rapidly expanding field.
Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:58
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