The World Health Organization considers an aetiological classification of diabetes to be essential. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether HLA-DQB1 genotypes facilitate the classification of diabetes as compared with assessment of islet antibodies by investigating young adult diabetic patients.Subjects and methods
Blood samples were available at diagnosis for 1,872 (90%) of the 2,077 young adult patients (aged 15-34 years old) over a 5-year period in the nationwide Diabetes Incidence Study in Sweden. Islet antibodies were measured at diagnosis in 1,869 patients, fasting plasma C-peptide (fpC-peptide) after diagnosis in 1,522, while HLA-DQB1 genotypes were determined in 1,743.Results
Islet antibodies were found in 83% of patients clinically considered to have type 1 diabetes, 23% with type 2 diabetes and 45% with unclassifiable diabetes. After diagnosis, median fpC-peptide concentrations were markedly lower in patients with islet antibodies than in those without (0.24 vs 0.69 nmol/l, p<0.0001). Irrespective of clinical classification, patients with islet antibodies showed increased frequencies of at least one of the risk-associated HLA-DQB1 genotypes compared with patients without. Antibody-negative patients with risk-associated HLA-DQB1 genotypes had significantly lower median fpC-peptide concentrations than those without risk-associated genotypes (0.51 vs 0.74 nmol/l, p=0.0003).Conclusions/interpretation
Assessment of islet antibodies is necessary for the aetiological classification of diabetic patients. HLA-DQB1 genotyping does not improve the classification in patients with islet antibodies. However, in patients without islet antibodies, HLA-DQB1 genotyping together with C-peptide measurement may be of value in differentiating between idiopathic type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.