Plasmids containing cDNA for the rat 67- and 65-kD isoforms of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD-67 and GAD-65) were expressed in COS-cells, and lysates of [35S]methionine-labeled cells were used for immunoprecipitations. Sera from 38 patients with type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, which precipitated a 64-kD antigen from rat islets, reacted with recombinant GAD-65 in relation to their anti-64-kD titers. The eight strongest sera also precipitated recombinant GAD-67, suggesting that certain epitopes are common to both isoforms. Subsequently, [35S]methionine-labeled GAD-65 was purified from COS cell lysates and employed in a binding assay with 50 sera of patients with recent onset of type 1 diabetes mellitus. 38 sera (76%) precipitated labeled GAD-65 with titers that correlated with islet cell antibodies (ICA), determined in a standard immunofluorescence assay. 2 sera were GAD positive but ICA negative, 4 were positive only for ICA, and 6 were negative for both GAD and ICA, as were the sera of 20 controls. The data illustrate that antibodies against GAD-65 are present in a majority of patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus and that autoantibodies against other islet cell antigens also exist. The radioligand-binding assay, which is convenient and sensitive for detecting GAD antibodies, will facilitate the screening of individuals with autoimmune islet cell disease.
L A Velloso, O Kämpe, A Hallberg, L Christmanson, C Betsholtz, F A Karlsson