Research Article

Plasmapheresis in the initial treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in children.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 286 doi: (Published 15 January 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;286:176
  1. J Ludvigsson,
  2. L Heding,
  3. G Liedén,
  4. B Marner,
  5. A Lernmark


    Several factors indicate that autoimmune mechanisms may play a part in the aetiology of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. At the onset of the disease in 10 children (aged 11-16 years) plasmapheresis was performed four times over one to two weeks. Seventeen age-matched children with the same clinical features served as controls. The C-peptide concentrations at onset were the same in the two groups, but after one month the children treated with plasmapheresis had significantly higher values. This difference became even more pronounced after three, nine, and 18 months, both during fasting and at the maximum response to a standardised meal. The study group also had a significantly more stable metabolism, longer partial remission, and no higher insulin requirement. Of the 10 treated children islet-cell cytoplasmic antibodies were present in seven before plasmapheresis and in nine during treatment. The antibodies remained detectable in five and six out of nine patients at one and six months respectively after plasmapheresis. Although the mechanisms are obscure, plasmapheresis performed at the onset of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus may help to preserve beta-cell function.