Studies of insulin and proinsulin in pancreas and serum support the existence of aetiopathological endotypes of type 1 diabetes associated with age at diagnosis.
It is unclear whether type 1 diabetes is a single disease or if endotypes exist. Our aim was to use a unique collection of pancreas samples recovered soon after disease onset to resolve this issue.Immunohistological analysis was used to determine the distribution of proinsulin and insulin in the islets of pancreas samples recovered soon after type 1 diabetes onset (<2 years) from young people diagnosed at age <7 years, 7-12 years and ≥13 years. The patterns were correlated with the insulitis profiles in the inflamed islets of the same groups of individuals. C-peptide levels and the proinsulin:C-peptide ratio were measured in the circulation of a cohort of living patients with longer duration of disease but who were diagnosed in these same age ranges.Distinct patterns of proinsulin localisation were seen in the islets of people with recent-onset type 1 diabetes, which differed markedly between children diagnosed at <7 years and those diagnosed at ≥13 years. Proinsulin processing was aberrant in most residual insulin-containing islets of the younger group but this was much less evident in the group ≥13 years (p