Time-dependent effects on circulating cytokines in patients with LADA: A decrease in IL-1ra and IL-1 beta is associated with progressive disease
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background Cytokines and chemokines participate in autoimmune processes at cellular targets which include insulin-producing beta cells. To which extent such participation is reflected in the circulation has not been conclusively resolved. Aim We compared the time course of cytokines/chemokines in Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) patients heterogeneous for high or low autoimmune activity as determined by levels of antibodies against glutamic acid decarboxylase (GADA). Methods Serum samples to be measured were from a two-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT) in 68 LADA patients. The study encompassed 21 months with C-peptide as primary endpoint. We measured 27 immune mediators at baseline, at 9 and at 21 months (end of study). Results of measurements were analyzed by multiple linear regression. Results At baseline, a high body mass index (BMI) (>26 kg/m2) was associated with elevated levels of the interleukins (IL) IL-1 beta, IL-1ra, IL-2, IL-5, IL-6 and IL-13. Treatment during RCT (sitagliptin vs. insulin) did not affect the time course (21 months) of levels of cytokines/chemokines (by univariate analyses). However, levels of the cytokines IL-1ra and IL-1 beta decreased significantly (p < 0.04 or less) in patients with high vs. low GADA when adjusted for BMI, age, gender (male/female), treatment (insulin/sitagliptin) and study site (Norwegian/Swedish). Conclusions In LADA, high levels of GADA, a proxy for high autoimmune activity and linked to a decline in C-peptide, was associated with a decrease of selected cytokines over time. This implies that the decline of IL-1ra and IL-1 beta in the circulation reflects autoimmune activity and beta cell demise in LADA.