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HLA is factor in diabetes.

HLA is factor in diabetes

A genetic error that results in the substitution of a single amino acid in an immune system molecule can greatly increase one's chances of getting insulin-dependent disbetes mellitus, new research suggests. The finding supports earlier evidence that inherited forms of diabetes may result from an autoimmune response against insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas.

John A. Todd, John I. Bell and Hugh O. McDevitt of the Stanford University School of Medicine performed detailed analysis of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules in 39 diabetic patients and compared them to normal controls. HLA molecules are a critical part of the body's cell-mediated immune response and are activated in cases of autoimmunity (SN: 10/10/87, p. 228).

As reported in the Oct. 14 NATURE, the researchers found that the 57th amino acid on a particular HLA protein chain was highly predictive of diabetes. Of 20 possible amino acids for that position, one, called asparagine, is most common and appears to confer protection against islet-cell autoimmunity. The presence there of any other amino acid, however, apparently alters the HLA molecule so that it is more likely to mount an autoimmune response against the insulin-producing cells.
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Title Annotation:human leukocyte antigen
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 17, 1987
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