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Carina Törn


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Gestational respiratory infections interacting with offspring HLA and CTLA-4 modifies incident β-cell autoantibodies


  • Kristian F. Lynch
  • Hye-Seung Lee
  • Carina Törn
  • Kendra Vehik
  • Jeffrey P. Krischer
  • Helena Elding Larsson
  • Michael J Haller
  • William A. Hagopian
  • Marian J. Rewers
  • Jin-Xiong She
  • Olli G Simell
  • Jorma Toppari
  • Anette G. Ziegler
  • Beena Akolkar
  • Heikki Hyöty
  • Ezio Bonifacio
  • Åke Lernmark

Summary, in English

β-cell autoantibodies against insulin (IAA), GAD65 (GADA) and IA-2 (IA-2A) precede onset of childhood type 1 diabetes (T1D). Incidence of the first appearing β-cell autoantibodies peaks at a young age and is patterned by T1D-associated genes, suggesting an early environmental influence. Here, we tested if gestational infections and interactions with child's human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and non-HLA genes affected the appearance of the first β-cell autoantibody. Singletons of mothers without diabetes (n = 7472) with T1D-associated HLA-DR-DQ genotypes were prospectively followed quarterly through the first 4 years of life, then semiannually until age 6 years, using standardized autoantibody analyses. Maternal infections during pregnancy were assessed via questionnaire 3-4.5 months post-delivery. Polymorphisms in twelve non-HLA genes associated with the first appearing β-cell autoantibodies were included in a Cox regression analysis. IAA predominated as the first appearing β-cell autoantibody in younger children (n = 226, median age at seroconversion 1.8 years) and GADA (n = 212; 3.2 years) in children aged ≥2 years. Gestational infections were not associated with the first appearing β-cell autoantibodies overall. However, gestational respiratory infections (G-RI) showed a consistent protective influence on IAA (HR 0.64, 95% CI 0.45-0.91) among CTLA4-(AG, GG) children (G-RI*. CTLA4 interaction, p = 0.002). The predominant associations of HLA-DR-DQ 4-8/8-4 with IAA and HLA-DR-DQ 3-2/3-2 with GADA were not observed if a G-RI was reported (G-RI*HLA-DR-DQ interaction, p = 0.03). The role of G-RI may depend on offspring HLA and CTLA-4 alleles and supports a bidirectional trigger for IAA or GADA as a first appearing β-cell autoantibody in early life.


  • Diabetes and Celiac Unit
  • Paediatric Endocrinology
  • EXODIAB: Excellence of Diabetes Research in Sweden

Publishing year







Journal of Autoimmunity



Document type

Journal article




  • Endocrinology and Diabetes


  • Autoimmune diabetes
  • Autoimmunity
  • Glutamic acid decarboxylase
  • HLA
  • IA-2
  • Insulin
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • β-cell autoantibodies



Research group

  • Diabetes and Celiac Unit
  • Paediatric Endocrinology


  • ISSN: 0896-8411