In 1994, an ongoing birth cohort study (DIPP, the Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention study) was launched in Finland, supported by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. Over a period of 14 years, more than 130,000 newborn infants have been screened for genetic risk and over 8000 at-risk children are being regularly followed.
The research team was led by Prof. Matej Oreič from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Prof. Olli Simell from University of Turku. Also Professors Mikael Knip, Jorma Ilonen, and Riitta Lahesmaa together with Dr. Riitta Veijola and Dr.Tuula Simell took part in the study, which investigated metabolic profiles of DIPP children prospectively from birth. The research team has published the results in The Journal of Experimental Medicine on 15 December 2008. The article reports the discovery of metabolic disturbances that precede the autoimmune response in children who later progress to type 1 diabetes.
The investigators found that the individuals who developed diabetes had reduced serum levels of succinic acid and phosphatidylcholine at birth, reduced levels of triglycerides and antioxidant ether phospholipids throughout the follow-up and increased levels of proinflammatory lysophosphatidylcholines several months prior to autoimmunity to pancreatic beta cells. The metabolic profile was partially normalized following the autoimmune response, suggesting autoimmunity may be a relatively late physiological response to the early metabolic disturbances. The observed lipid changes were not attributable to HLA-associated genetic risk.
Metabolic profiling at early age may therefore aid in determining the risk of type 1 diabetes. The reported findings imply that metabolic or
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VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland