What Is Islet Autoimmunity?
Type 1 Diabetes results from the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the islets of the pancreas by the body’s immune system. Before Type 1 Diabetes presents with symptoms, underlying autoimmunity to the insulin-producing cells can be detected by measuring antibodies in the blood stream. These antibodies are known as islet autoantibodies and the condition is known as islet autoimmunity.
Presently, there is very little known about what triggers a child to develop islet autoimmunity. We believe that several environmental factors may be important including the composition of naturally occurring bacterial communities that inhabit our bodies. These bacterial communities are in themselves influenced by nutrition, weight gain, the immune system, method of delivery and viral infection during pregnancy and early childhood.
Identifying those factors that initiate the development of islet autoimmunity in early life could lead to a means of preventing Type 1 Diabetes before the autoimmune process begins.