The current dogma of type 1 diabetes pathogenesis asserts that an autoimmune attack leads to the destruction of pancreatic β cells, with subsequent hyperglycemia. This dogma is based on islet autoantibodies emerging prior to the onset of type 1 diabetes. In this issue of the JCI, Warncke et al. report on their investigation of the development of hyperglycemia below the diabetes threshold as an early proxy of β cell demise. Surprisingly, they found that an elevation in blood glucose preceded the appearance of autoimmunity. This observation calls into question the importance of autoimmunity as the primary cause of β cell destruction and has implications for prevention and treatment in diabetes.
Marc Y. Donath
A model of factors that may lead to β cell destruction in type 1 diabetes.