One hundred fifty-four selected patients with nonketotic diabetes diagnosed between the ages of 35 and 75 yr and treated with diet or oral hypoglycemie agents for at least 1 yr were investigated for parameters of glycemie control (weight loss, blood glucose, and glycosylated hemoglobin), islet cell function (fasting and glucagon-stimulated C-peptide responses), and immunologie markers of insulitis (total ICA and CF-ICA) or autoimmunity (thyroid and gastric antibodies). These parameters were all repeated in 9 of 22 ICA-positive patients after a 2-yr follow-up and correlated with secondary drug failure. The antibody tests were also done on 51 nondiabetic controls matched for age and body weight.

The 22 (14%) diabetic subjects having positive islet cell antibodies (ICA) included more women than men with a shorter duration of symptoms, lower body weight, more associated thyroid autoimmunity, and a tendency to have more type I diabetes in their families, although glycemic control, age at onset, and family history of type II diabetes were the same as in the 132 ICA-negative cases.

Patients with ICA had lower initial C-peptide levels and showed little rise after glucagon stimulation. Beta cell function deteriorated significantly during the 2-yr follow-up in 9 of 22 positive patients and more ICA-positive patients required insulin. It is suggested that these latent type I diabetic patients are characterized by persistent ICA, progressive loss of beta cells, and a high frequency of thyrogastric autoimmunity. The determination of ICA may be of clinical value in the diagnosis and treatment of nonketotic diabetes with onset in later life.

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