Genetics of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 05, 2012

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Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is a multi-factorial autoimmune disease in which pancreatic beta cells are destructed by T-cell leading to insulin deficiency. Till date, no single gene is found to be solely responsible for Type 1 Diabetes. The disease can be dominant or recessive depending upon the loci (18 putative loci of type one diabetes are identified) combination. The strongest gene (IDDM1) responsible for type 1 diabetes is located in Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) Class II region of chromosome genes. It accounts for about forty percent of familial aggregation of type 1 diabetes. When there is variation in this gene the risk of disease increases.

Even though, type 1 diabetes mellitus is a polygenic disorder there are certain environmental factors that are seen to influence its occurrence.

Researchers propose two mechanisms for onset of type 1 diabetes

  • According to first mechanism environmental factors triggers the process of auto immune system. Clinically the disease occurs after gradual destruction of beta cells. But diagnosis of type 1 diabetes mellitus is made only after its symptoms are evident for few weeks.
  • Second mechanism suggests that pancreatic beta cells are mainly damaged due to super antigen reaction. Here the entire procedure takes a week time leading to clinical onset of type 1 diabetes.

Environmental factors can greatly influence the genetics of type 1 diabetes mellitus.  A study done on identical twins showed that it is only in 30 to 40 percent cases that both the twin have type 1 diabetes. Being identical twins they had same genome but environmental factor was seen to be more influencing.


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