Japanese researchers published their findings in the September 2011 issue of Diabetes Care in an article called “Type 1 diabetes and interferon therapy: a nationwide study in Japan.”
They examined 91 patients who had type 1 diabetes that developed during or shortly after interferon therapy. They looked at the patients’ clinical characteristics, anti-islet autoantibodies, and HLA-DR typing.
The median age at the onset of type 1 diabetes was 56 years old (with an interquartile range of 48 to 63 years old), and the mean ±SD BMI was 20.8 ± 2.7 kg/m2. It was noted that the period of time from the start of interferon therapy to the onset of type 1 diabetes in patients who received pegylated interferon and ribavirin was considerably shorter than for those who received non-pegylated interferon single therapy (p<0.05).
For 94.5% of the study’s participants, anti-islet autoantibodies were identified at the onset of type 1 diabetes. The study found that in the adult Japanese population, type 1 diabetes susceptibility to HLA-DRs—specifically, DR4 and DR9—was linked to the development of interferon treatment-related type 1 diabetes. In addition, HLA-DR13 was notably higher in participants who had interferon treatment-related type 1 diabetes than in those who were healthy (odds ratio 3.80 [95% CI; 2.20–7.55]; p<0.0001) or who had traditional type 1 diabetes (2.15 [1.17–3.93]; p<0.05).
The study further found that anti-islet autoantibodies should be examined before and during interferon therapy to identify those at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes. It also suggests that strong anti-viral treatment may trigger earlier development of type 1 diabetes, and patients who develop interferon treatment-related type 1 diabetes are already genetically susceptible.
Nakamura K, Kawasaki E, Imagawa A et al. Type 1 diabetes and interferon therapy: a nationwide study in Japan. Diabetes Care. 2011;34( 9):2084-2089. doi: 10.2337/dc10-2274.