The 1-yr incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) in a population of the Piedmont and Aosta Valley area of Italy was recorded. Anti-virus antibodies (e.g., Coxsackie B1-6, mumps, cytomegalovirus), islet cell antibodies (ICAs), and H LA-A, -B, -C, and -DR were determined in 74 IDDM patients (38 males, 36 females) and in controls. Total IDDM incidence was 5.0/100,000, and the incidence for those <20 yr of age was 11.6/100,000. Anti-virus antibody frequency was not different in IDDM patients and controls. ICAs were present in 58% of IDDM patients at onset and in 30% after 12 mo, and complement-fixing ICAs were found in 39 and 17%, respectively. IDDM was significantly and positively associated with DR3/DR4 and negatively associated with DR2 and DR5. ICA frequency was significantly higher in DR3/DR4 heterozygote patients than in patients without DR3 and DR4. These results suggest that in this IDDM population 1) viral etiology is not evident, 2) ICAs offer only a partial pathogenetic explanation, and 3) genetic and immunologic heterogeneity is evident.

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