New insights into adult-onset type 1 diabetes

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Type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition affecting millions of young individuals globally, is not exclusive to childhood. As many as half of all cases are diagnosed during adulthood, and there is a need to understand the factors contributing to the development of type 1 diabetes in adults.

A new study at Karolinska Institutet now provides new insights into the development of the disease in adults. The results are presented in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

The research, conducted at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, was based on data from more than 2.8 million individuals, and the aim was to compare the heritability of type 1 in adults and children. The findings indicate that having a first-degree relative with the condition significantly increases the risk of developing type 1 diabetes as an adult, and the risk is higher if the relative developed diabetes early. Overall, heritability is lower for type 1 diabetes in adults than children.

Yuxia Wei, Ph.D. student at the Institute of Environmental Medicine and first author, notes, “Our study provides new insights on the causes of type 1 diabetes in adults. The lower in adults suggests that environmental factors play a larger role for disease development in adults than children.”

The study underscores the need for further research to identify contributing to adult-onset type 1 diabetes. “Understanding these factors is crucial for developing targeted interventions to prevent the disease’s development,” says Sofia Carlsson, senior lecturer at the Institute of Environmental Medicine.

More information:
Yuxia Wei et al, Familial aggregation and heritability of childhood-onset and adult-onset type 1 diabetes: a Swedish register-based cohort study, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology (2024). DOI: 10.1016/S2213-8587(24)00068-8

Journal information:
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology


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