Air Pollution Accelerates Development of Type 1 Diabetes

High pollution levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide lead to an earlier manifestation of type 1 diabetes in small children. This is suggested by analyses of 671 type 1 diabetes patients, which were recorded between April 2009 and May 2013 in the Bavarian diabetes registry DiMelli (Diabetes Incidence Cohort Registry). Scientists of the Institute for Diabetes Research, Helmholtz Zentrum München, matched the time of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes with the exposure to specific airborne pollutants at the place of residence and examined the blood samples of patients for various inflammation markers at the time of the diagnosis.

In this project, which is part of the research program of the German Center for Diabetes Research, it was shown that small children living in an environment with high air pollution developed type 1 diabetes on average almost three years earlier than children of the same age who lived in areas with low air pollution levels. This association existed for particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 micrometers and nitrogen dioxide, resulting e.g. from road traffic. However, the researchers found no clear association between air pollution levels and the inflammation markers interleukin (IL)-1ß, IL-6, IL-8 and the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and thus no indications of possible disease mechanisms.
In the DiMelli Registry the new cases of all diabetes types in children and adolescents up to 20 years of age throughout Bavaria are recorded. By means of laboratory analyses the residual beta cell function and the autoantibody status of the patients are studied to classify the diabetes type accurately and to optimize therapy. All physicians in private practice and in clinics in Bavaria are called upon to report diabetes cases to the Diabetes Registry for patients who have not yet reached 20 years of age and whose diagnosis does not date back further than six months.

Registration and information about DiMelli
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Original publication:
Beyerlein A1, Krasmann M, Thiering E, Kusian D, Markevych I, D'Orlando O, Warncke K, Jochner S, Heinrich J, Ziegler AG: Ambient Air Pollution and Early Manifestation of Type 1 Diabetes. Epidemiology. 2015 Feb 9. [Epub ahead of print, no abstract available]