Proteomic profiling can identify useful biomarkers. Monozygotic (MZ) twins discordant for a condition represent an ideal test population. We aimed to investigate and validate proteomic profiling in twins with type 1 diabetes and in other well-characterized cohorts.


A broad, multiplex analysis of 4,068 proteins in serum samples from MZ twins concordant (n = 43) and discordant (n = 27) for type 1 diabetes identified major differences that were subsequently validated by a trypsin(ogen) assay in MZ pairs concordant (n = 39) and discordant (n = 42) for type 1 diabetes, individuals at risk for (n = 195) and with (n = 990) type 1 diabetes, as well as individuals with non–insulin-requiring adult-onset diabetes diagnosed as either autoimmune (n = 96) or type 2 (n = 291).


Proteomic analysis identified major differences between exocrine enzyme levels in discordant MZ twin pairs despite a strong correlation between twins, whether concordant or discordant for type 1 diabetes (P < 0.01 for both). In validation experiments, trypsin(ogen) levels were lower in twins with diabetes than in the co-twin without diabetes (P < 0.0001) and healthy control participants (P < 0.0001). In recently diagnosed participants, trypsin(ogen) levels were lower than in control participants across a broad age range. In at-risk relatives, levels <15 ng/mL were associated with an increased risk of progression (uncorrected P = 0.009). Multiple linear regression in recently diagnosed participants showed that trypsin(ogen) levels were associated with insulin dose and diabetic ketoacidosis, while age and BMI were confounders.


Type 1 diabetes is associated with altered exocrine function, even before onset. Twin data suggest roles for genetic and nongenetically determined factors. Exocrine/endocrine interactions are important underinvestigated factors in type 1 diabetes.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.21801124.

L.B. and T.V. are joint first authors.

R.D.L. and K.M.G. are joint senior authors.


A complete list of Action LADA Consortium and BOX Study Group members are provided in the supplementary material online.

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