Role Played by Antibodies in Diabetes

To help in its earlier diagnosis, researchers keep investigating specific genetic markers that can predict a possible risk for developing diabetes before its process is underway. The role played by antibodies is one of the most important areas of interest.

Diabetes and Antibodies

Antibodies are special proteins in the blood and other body parts. They attack and detect all foreign substances in the human body, including harmful bacteria and viruses. Sometimes, antibodies may malfunction and start attacking body systems. When it happens, they are called autoantibodies. Patients who have diabetes type 1 often have autoantibodies that attack and destroy the islet beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This attack on the immune system may also happen in patients with diabetes type 2, but it occurs less often.

There are certain antibodies identified as linked to the development of this serious condition, including ICA and GADA. They fight unwanted proteins on and in islet beta cells. Patients with diabetes type 1 may have a higher level of these antibodies to fend off outside attacks along with autoantibodies that attack body systems. Any autoantibody attack destroys the islet cells that antibodies protect. About 95% of kids with diabetes type 1 have a high level of GADA and ICA, while about 25% of adult patients with diabetes type 2 have increased levels of these autoantibodies.

Early Screening of Antibodies

According to the latest research, the presence of GADA autoantibodies is a strong predictive market for a future onset of diabetes type 1. In most cases, they are present before the early symptoms of diabetes and prediabetes. Blood tests are required to screen for autoantibodies, especially in siblings of people diagnosed with diabetes type 1. That’s because they help doctors predict if their patients have a risk of developing diabetes and determine its type. This early detection enables all kinds of preventive measures to stop the onset of this serious disease.

Effective Diabetes Management and Antibodies

Many people tend to develop diabetes type 2, because they lead a sedentary lifestyle and are overweight. However, some patients with this condition can have autoantibodies and antibodies at as high and even higher levels compared to people with diabetes type 1. If they are diagnosed with diabetes type 2, they usually want to make certain blood tests to determine whether they have any autoantibodies in the body. If they have a high level of autoantibodies, they’re more likely to use insulin in the future. These details help doctors and patients predict the future course of this disease and if they will eventually require insulin to manage it.

In-Between Diabetes or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults

Some patients may develop adult-onset diabetes that may resemble diabetes type 2 and respond to all kinds of oral diabetic meds. Within several years they lose their effectiveness, so people start using insulin. This type of diabetes is also called LADA, or latent autoimmune diabetes of adults, diabetes type 1.5, and in-between diabetes. The main reason is that it starts as diabetes type 2 before turning into insulin-dependent diabetes type 1.

Patients with this condition have a higher level of GADA and ICA and a higher level of malfunctioning autoantibodies. The latter ones start overwhelming antibodies over time, thus, destroying the ability of the body to produce insulin. When it happens, diabetes type 2 turns into diabetes type 1.

Medical professionals claim that because patients with LADA have a high level of correctly functioning antibodies, the immune system can suppress autoantibodies more efficiently and for a longer period of time compared to people who have diabetes type 1 at an early age. Over time, autoantibodies of patients with LADA start destroying the ability of the body to produce insulin. That’s why people with LADA start developing insulin dependency faster compared to typical patients with diabetes type 2.

In addition, it’s worth mentioning that some patients may have both types of malfunctioning autoantibodies, but they never develop any form of diabetes. Remember that the most important risk factors to be diagnosed with diabetes type 2, including your weight and diet, are not linked to the malfunctioning of your immune system. The good news is that these risk factors can be easily controlled if you choose healthy lifestyle habits. Your health should be monitored by doctors on a regular basis too.