Pediatric Diabetes

 Exocrine pancreas function decreases during the progression of the beta-cell damaging process in young prediabetic children
 
Objective The function of the exocrine pancreas is decreased in patients with type 1 diabetes but it is not known when this defect develops. The current study set out to determine whether the reduced exocrine function becomes manifest after the initiation of islet autoimmunity. Methods The study was nested in the prospective Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention study where children with human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-conferred susceptibility are observed from birth. Elastase-1 levels were analyzed from stool samples collected at the time of seroconversion to islet autoantibody positivity and at diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, as well as from samples taken from matched control children of similar age. Results Elastase levels were lower in case children at the time of the diagnosis of diabetes when compared to the control children. However, elastase concentrations did not differ between cases and controls at the time when autoantibodies appeared. Conclusion The results suggest that the defect in the exocrine function develops after the appearance of islet autoantibodies. Further studies are needed to assess whether reduced elastase levels predict rapid progression of islet autoimmunity to clinical disease.