Background: Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in USA, and pediatric diabetes teams are seeing increasing numbers of Somali children with diabetes. Objective: To assess the immune basis of diabetes in Somali children in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Methods: A total of 31 Somali children ≤19 yr were treated for type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital and Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota underwent analysis of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles (n = 30) and diabetes autoantibodies [glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65), islet antigen 2 (IA-2), zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8); n = 31]. HLA alleles were analyzed in 49 Somalis without diabetes (controls). Anti-transglutaminase autoantibodies (TGA) for celiac disease were also measured. Results: In Somali children with T1D aged 13.5 ± 5 yr (35% female, disease duration 6.5 ± 3.6 yr), the most common HLA allele was DRB1*03:01 (93%, compared with 45% of Somali controls), followed by DRB1*13:02 (27%). There was a relatively low frequency of DR4 (13%). Controls showed a similar pattern. All 31 participants were positive for at least one diabetes autoantibody. Insulin antibodies were positive in 84% (all were on insulin). Excluding insulin antibodies, 23 (74%) subjects tested positive for at least one other diabetes autoantibody; 32% had 1 autoantibody, 32% had 2 autoantibodies, and 10% had 3 autoantibodies. GAD65 autoantibodies were found in 56% of subjects, IA-2 in 29%, and ZnT8 in 26%. Four (13%) were TGA positive. Conclusion: The autoantibody and HLA profiles of Somali children with diabetes are consistent with autoimmune diabetes. Their HLA profile is unique with an exceptionally high prevalence of DRB1*03:01 allele and relative paucity of DR4 alleles compared with African Americans with T1D.
- diabetes autoimmunity
- human leukocyte antigen