Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Immune changes associated with insulin dependent diabetes may remit without causing the disease: a study in identical twins.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 292 doi: (Published 22 March 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;292:793
  1. B A Millward,
  2. L Alviggi,
  3. P J Hoskins,
  4. C Johnston,
  5. D Heaton,
  6. G F Bottazzo,
  7. D Vergani,
  8. R D Leslie,
  9. D A Pyke


    Activation of T lymphocytes and islet cell antibodies were studied in two groups of insulin dependent diabetics and their non-diabetic identical cotwins. Group 1 comprised 12 "short term" twin pairs (diabetic twin diagnosed less than five years previously) in whom only a third of the cotwins were likely to develop diabetes; 10 of the 12 non-diabetic cotwins showed increased values of activated T lymphocytes, islet cell antibodies, or both. Group 2 comprised 10 "long term" twin pairs (diabetic twin diagnosed more than 11 years previously) in whom none of the non-diabetic cotwins was likely to develop diabetes; these pairs were selected because all the non-diabetic cotwins had shown islet cell antibodies at some time in the past, but only two still did so (one with an increased value of activated T cells). There was relative glucose intolerance in the cotwins of the short term group but not in those of the long term group. Non-diabetic cotwins of diabetics may show the immune changes associated with insulin dependent diabetes and relative glucose intolerance, but these changes may remit without leading to diabetes.