The relationships between genetic markers and disease-associated autoantibodies were studied in an unselected population of 701 siblings of children with type 1 diabetes, and the predictive characteristics of these markers over a period of 9 years were determined. Increased prevalences of all the antibodies were closely associated with HLA identity to the index case, the DR4 and DQB1*0302 alleles, and the DR3/4 phenotype and the DQB1*02/0302 genotype. Antibodies to GAD (GADA) were also associated with the DR3 and DQB1*02 alleles. Siblings carrying the protective DR2 and DQB1*0602-3 alleles were characterized by lower frequencies of islet cell antibodies (ICA), antibodies to IA-2 (IA-2A), and GADA. Higher levels of ICA were related to HLA identity, the DR4 and DQB1*0302 alleles, and the susceptible DQB1 genotypes, while no significant differences were observed in the levels of IA-2A, GADA, or insulin autoantibodies among siblings with different HLA risk markers. The DR2 or DQB1*0602-3 alleles were not related to the levels of any antibody specificity. A combination of the genetic markers and autoantibodies increased the positive predictive values of all autoantibodies substantially, which may have clinical implications when evaluating the risk of developing type 1 diabetes at the individual level or when recruiting high-risk individuals for intervention trials. However, because such combinations also resulted in reduced sensitivity, autoantibodies alone rather than in combination with genetic markers are recommended as the first-line screening in siblings. Finally, not all siblings with a broad humoral autoimmune response or high-risk genetic markers present with type 1 diabetes, while some with a low genetic risk and weak initial signs of humoral autoimmunity may progress to disease.

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