To examine the performance of islet cell antibodies (ICAs) and antibodies to glutamate decarboxylase (GADA), IA-2 (IA-2 antibody [IA-2A]), and insulin (insulin autoantibody [IAA]), alone and in combination, in assessing type 1 diabetes risk within type 1 diabetic families to identify a practical and effective screening strategy for predicting type 1 diabetes in relatives.


ICA, GADA, IA-2A, and IAA were determined in 806 first-degree relatives participating in a prospective type 1 diabetes family study (median follow-up 6.17 years, range 0.6–8.3). The conferred risk of developing type 1 diabetes within 6 years was evaluated by Kaplan-Meier for each antibody marker, used alone or in combination.


ICAs were detected in 3%, GADA in 5.1%, IA-2A in 2.5%, and IAA in 3.7% of relatives; ≥1 antibody markers were detected in 10.7% of relatives and ≥2 were detected in 1.9% of relatives. The risk of type 1 diabetes at 6 years was 1.5% in relatives with only 1 marker and 24.8% in relatives with ≥2 markers. As a practical and effective strategy for type 1 diabetes risk assessment in relatives, this study indicates a first-step screening based on GADA and IA-2A measurement—which identified 6.5% of relatives, including all who developed the disease, with a 6-year type 1 diabetes risk of 9.0%—followed by a second step based on ICA and IAA measurement in relatives with either GADA or IA-2A, which identified a total of 1.9% of all relatives as having ≥2 markers, and a 6-year risk of 24.8%, including 6 of 7 who developed type 1 diabetes.


A two-step antibody screening, based first on GADA and IA-2A and then on ICA and IAA measurements in identified individuals, is likely to be a practical, sensitive, and effective strategy for predicting type 1 diabetes in first-degree relatives.

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