To determine the proportion of patients with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) who have serological characteristics typical of IDDM.
Islet cell antibodies (ICAs), insulin autoantibodies (IAAs), GAD65, and IA-2 antibodies were measured in 145 pregnant women with GDM, 33 with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), and in 73 with normal glucose tolerance (NGT). ICAs were measured by indirect immunofluorescence; GAD65 and IA-2 antibodies, by a radio-ligand immunoassay incorporating 35S-labeled recombinant antigen; and IAAs, by a liquid-phase radiobinding assay.
The prevalences of islet autoantibodies were low and not significantly different between groups. ICAs were detected at levels ranging from 5 to 45 Juvenile Diabetes Foundation U in 14 (10%) women with GDM, 2 (6%) women with (GT, and in 4 (5%) women with NGT. IAAs were detected at levels between 3 and 4 SD above the mean in 4 (3%) women with GDM, 0 women with IGT, and in 1 (1%) woman with NGT. None had both ICAs and IAAs. Neither GAD65 nor IA-2 antibodies, which have been detected in the majority of pre-IDDM and IDDM patients, were found in NGT, IGT, or GDM patients.
Low-titer ICAs and IAAs are not infrequent in pregnant women, but multiple islet autoantibodies and antibodies to GAD65 or IA-2 were not found in GDM. These findings suggest that the serological characteristics of IDDM are rare in GDM.