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β-cell autoantibodies in children with type 2 diabetes mellitus: subgroup or misclassification?
  1. T Reinehr,
  2. E Schober,
  3. S Wiegand,
  4. A Thon,
  5. R Holl,
  6. on behalf of the DPV-Wiss Study Group
  1. Vestische Hospital for Children and Adolescents, University of Witten/Herdecke, Datteln, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
    PD Dr T Reinehr
    Vestische Hospital for Children and Adolescents, University of Witten/Herdecke, Dr F Steiner Str. 5, 45711 Datteln, Germany; T.Reinehr{at}


Background: In adults, a fraction of diabetic individuals with β-cell autoantibodies has initially non-insulin requiring diabetes clinically appearing as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), named latent autoimmune diabetes in adulthood (LADA). The occurrence of β-cell autoantibodies in European children and adolescents with T2DM has not been reported so far.

Methods: The frequency of β-cell autoantibodies (anti-GAD, anti-IA-2, and anti-ICA) was determined in 7050 diabetic children and adolescents. The type of diabetes was classified by paediatric diabetic specialists based on the clinical presentation. Children with non-insulin dependent T2DM over a one year period were studied separately.

Results: A total of 6922 children were clinically classified as having type 1 diabetes (T1DM) and 128 children as having T2DM. Thirty six per cent of the children with T2DM had at least one detectable β-cell autoantibody. These children did not differ significantly from the children with T2DM and without autoantibodies in respect of age, gender, weight status, lipids, blood pressure, C-peptide, glucose, and HbA1c at manifestation, as well as frequency of anti-thyroidal antibodies and insulin treatment during follow up. In the subgroup of the 38 children with T2DM without insulin requirement over a one year period, autoantibodies occurred in 32%. These 12 children were predominantly obese (67%), female (67%), and in the pubertal age range.

Conclusion: β-cell autoantibodies were detectable in a subgroup of initially non-insulin dependent diabetic children and adolescents with the clinical appearance of T2DM. Following the terminology “latent autoimmune diabetes in adulthood (LADA)”, this subgroup might be classified as “LADY” (latent autoimmune diabetes in youth).

  • anti-IAA, autoantibodies to insulin
  • anti-GAD, autoantibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase
  • anti-ICA, autoantibodies to islet cells
  • anti-IA-2, autoantibodies to protein tyrosine phosphatase IA-2
  • anti-TPO, autoantibodies to thyroid peroxidase
  • anti-TAK, autoantibodies to thyreoglobulin
  • BMI, body mass index
  • HbA1c, glycosylated haemoglobin
  • IQR, interquartile range
  • LADA, latent autoimmune diabetes in adulthood
  • LADY, latent autoimmune diabetes in youth
  • SDS, standard deviation score
  • T1DM, type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • T2DM, type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • differential diagnosis
  • β-cell autoantibodies
  • thyroidal antibodies

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  • Published Online First 31 January 2006

  • Funding: this study received financial support by the German Ministry of Health, German Diabetes Association, German Research foundation (DFG), National Action For Diabetes Mellitus (NAFDM), German Diabetes Foundation, Dr-Bürger-Büsing-Foundation, and Novo Nordisk Germany

  • Competing interests: none declared

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