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August 9, 2007

Diagnosis and Symptoms, Research: Other Research

Question from Baltimore, Maryland, USA:

My endocrinologist recently told me that my daughter came back positive for insulin IgG antibodies, but the antiGAD-65 antibodies and islet cell antibodies were negative. If, right now, her antibodies are only attacking the insulin, does that mean her pancreatic cells are okay (for now)? Is she still producing insulin, but destroying it at the same time? Can we possibly save these cells somehow? My endocrinologist didn't know and was going to call one of his associates, but if one of you might know the answer, that would make me feel even more secure.


Sorry, but this probably won’t help with feeling secure. Any of the three pancreatic antibody tests could be positive; the more positive, the more likely that diabetes will develop but, sometimes, only one of the three is positive. In fact, one can develop type 1 diabetes with negative antibodies since the tests are not perfect. The higher the antibody titer, the more likely that diabetes will develop. If one also has identical genes, then the genetic predisposition would also give higher risk and this may be the next step in the testing process if you are part of one of the “predicting diabetes” studies.

There are some experimental treatments aimed to stop the ongoing beta cell damage/destruction, but we do not have an ideal approach yet. Experimentally, in animals, this has worked reasonably well and so, the reason for the studies in humans now ongoing. Eating fewer simple carbohydrates also helps since the pancreas then does not have to overwork so much, but this also is not scientifically proven, just reasonable theoretical evidence.

I would suggest your going back to your diabetes team and reviewing the results in more detail and asking these specific question so that they can go over your options. You should also know how much blood glucose monitoring to do, what symptoms to watch for (increased urination, increased thirst, enuresis, blurry vision, etc.)