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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is Type 1 Diabetes considered a genetic disease?

    i wasnt sure if diabetes was classifed as a genetic condition or not
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Lisa Renn


    Lisa is an APD with 12 years experience, specialising in helping people identify and change habits that impact negatively on their health. Inspiring change, Lisa … View Profile

    Hi there,
    Type 1 diabetes has a genetic component. You are at increased risk depending on whether your mother, father or siblings has type 1 diabetes. There are tests that you can have done as type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition so you can be tested to see if you are producing antibodies for this condition.
    It is certainly not as strongly genetic as type 2 diabetes.
    All the best

  • 1


    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    Adding a bit more to what Lisa wrote:
    Type I diabetes is an auto-immune disease. What that means is that the immune system (which usually destroys bacteria, viruses, etc) “makes a mistake” and destroys pancreatic beta cells (which make insulin), “thinking” that these cells are pathogens like bacteria.
    The best known genetic risk factor for Type I diabetes is inheriting the gene for a protein called HLA-DQB1. It is a member of a family of proteins (the “HLA proteins”) whose job is to help the immune system recognise pathogens.
    Environmental effects also seem to be important. One idea (this is controversial) is that mild viral infections may be significant. In essence, the idea is that the combination of “virus + HLA-DQB1“ looks like ”beta cell + HLA-DQB1” so the immune system is tricked into destroying  the beta cells.
    I hope this makes sense - I have skipped over a lot of technical detail - please repost if you would like more information.

  • 1


    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Type 1 diabetes is usually a progressive autoimmune disease, in which the beta cells that produce insulin are slowly destroyed by the body's own immune system. It is unknown what first starts this cascade of immune events, but evidence suggests that both a genetic predisposition and environmental factors, such as a viral infection, are involved. Some research suggests that viral infections may trigger the disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Most people who develop type 1 diabetes, however, do not have a family history of the disease. The odds of inheriting the disease are only 10% if a first-degree relative has diabetes, and even in identical twins, one twin has only a 33% chance of having type 1 diabetes if the other has it. Children are more likely to inherit the disease from a father with type 1 diabetes than from a mother with the disorder.
    Genetic factors cannot fully explain the development of diabetes. Over the past 40 years, a major increase in the incidence of type 1 diabetes has been reported. There is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, and it is NOT caused by poor diet, too much sugar, obesity, or lack of exercise. Because Type 1 diabetes is not preventable, some people say it is a “genetic” form of diabetes. It can also run strong in families, although about 80% of Type 1 diabetics have no family members with the disease. This has to do with the complex genetics involved. Not everyone in the family will inherit those genes or be exposed to the triggers. Type 1 diabetes is a multi factorial and polygenetic disease. If you do have the gene and you are exposed to the virus you may develop the autoimmune condition where the beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed and you develop Type 1 diabestes.

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