Zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8) is an islet β-cell secretory granule membrane protein recently identified as an autoantibody antigen in type 1 diabetes. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and role of antibodies to ZnT8 (ZnT8As) in adult-onset diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
ZnT8As were measured by a radioimmunoprecipitation assay using recombinant ZnT8 COOH-terminal or NH2-terminal proteins in 193 patients with adult-onset autoimmune diabetes having antibodies to either GAD (GADAs) or IA-2 (IA-2As) and in 1,056 antibody-negative patients with type 2 diabetes from the Non Insulin Requiring Autoimmune Diabetes (NIRAD) study.
ZnT8As-COOH were detected in 18.6% patients with autoimmune diabetes and 1.4% with type 2 diabetes. ZnT8As-NH2 were rare. ZnT8As were associated with younger age and a high GADA titer. The use of GADAs, IA-2As, and ZnT8As in combination allowed a stratification of clinical phenotype, with younger age of onset of diabetes and characteristics of more severe insulin deficiency (higher fasting glucose and A1C, lower BMI, total cholesterol, and triglycerides) in patients with all three markers, with progressive attenuation in patients with two, one, and no antibodies (all Ptrend < 0.001). Autoantibody titers, association with high-risk HLA genotypes, and prevalence of thyroid peroxidase antibodies followed the same trend (all P < 0.001).
ZnT8As are detectable in a proportion of patients with adult-onset autoimmune diabetes and seem to be a valuable marker to differentiate clinical phenotypes.