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Molecular aspects of type 1 diabetes
  1. M A Kelly,
  2. M L Rayner,
  3. C H Mijovic,
  4. A H Barnett
  1. Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Sciences, University of Birmingham and Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham B9 5SS, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M A Kelly, Department of Medicine, Clinical Research Block, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TH, UK;


Type 1 diabetes is a T cell mediated autoimmune disease, characterised by the selective destruction of pancreatic β cells, and susceptibility is determined by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The environmental agents implicated include viruses and dietary factors, although none has yet been shown to be directly responsible for triggering β cell autoimmunity. The genetic factors that influence disease risk have been subjected to more intensive study and two gene regions of major importance have been identified: the human leucocyte antigen locus and the insulin gene. This review will focus on the mechanisms by which these genes might influence the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

  • type 1 diabetes
  • HLA molecules
  • molecular mechanisms
  • GAD, glutamic acid decarboxylase
  • HLA, human leucocyte antigen
  • IDDM, insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • IGF, insulin-like growth factor
  • MHC, major histocompatibility complex
  • NOD, non-obese diabetic
  • TCR, T cell receptor
  • VNTR, variable number of tandem repeats

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