Circulating insulin autoantibodies (INSAAb) were measured in discordant monozygotic twins, first-degree relatives, and other groups at “high risk” for the development of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), and these results correlated with both islet cell antibody (ICAb) status and beta cell function. INSAAb were positive in 31.6% (12 of 38) ICAb-positive subjects but in only 3.1% (3 of 97) ICAb-negative subjects (X2 = 22.4; P < 0.001). Elevated levels of INSAAb tended to correlate with younger age and were observed in individuals irrespective of the prevailing degree of their beta cell function. Eight of 15 subjects detected to be INSAAb positive have thus far progressed to clinical IDDM (X2 = 18.3; P < 0.001). Thus, autoantibodies reactive with the insulin molecule (1) appear to constitute an additional serologie marker of ongoing autoimmunity and development of IDDM, and (2) may reflect heterogeneity in the pathogenesis of IDDM.

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