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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to thank Mohamed Farah, BA and Mr. Martin Mohammed for helping with recruitment and community outreach; Shukri Ahmed for volunteering to interpret; and Brittany Machus for helping obtain consent from participants, collecting data from medical records at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota (CHCM) and coordinating efforts between the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital and CHCM. The authors would also like to thank David M. Vock, PhD, for his assistance and advice with statistical analyses. Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health Award Number UL1TR000114. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
- diabetes autoimmunity
- human leukocyte antigen