Autoimmunity does not contribute to the highly prevalent glucose metabolism disturbances in a Japanese Brazilian population
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The Japanese Brazilian population has one of the highest prevalences of diabetes worldwide. Despite being non-obese according to standard definitions, their body fat distribution is typically central. We investigated whether a subset of these subjects had autoantibodies that would suggest a slowly progressive form of type 1 diabetes. A total of 721 Japanese Brazilians (386 men) in the 30- to 60-year age group underwent clinical examination and laboratory procedures, including a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test and determinations of serum autoantibodies. Antibodies to glutamic acid decarboxylase (GADab) were determined by radioimmunoassay and to thyroglobulin (TGab) and thyroperoxidase (TPOab) by flow-cytometry assays. Mean body mass index was 25.2 ± 3.8 kg/m2, but waist circumference was elevated according to the Asian standards. Diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, and impaired fasting glycemia were found in 31%, 22%, and 22%, respectively, and 53% of the subjects had metabolic syndrome. Glutamic acid decarboxylase (GADab) was positive in 4.72%, TGab in 9.6%, and TPOab in 10% of the whole sample. When participants were stratified according to the presence of thyroid antibodies, similar frequencies of GADab were found in positive and negative groups. The prevalence rates of glucose metabolism disturbances did not differ between GADab positive and negative groups. Our data did not support the view that autoimmune injury could contribute to the high prevalence of diabetes seen in Japanese Brazilians, and the presence of co-morbidities included in the spectrum of metabolic syndrome favors the classification as type 2 diabetes.
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