Horm Metab Res. 2002 Aug;34(8):455-9.
Unit of Diabetes and Endocrinology, University Campus Bio-Medico, Rome, Italy.
Cow’s milk is thought to be an environmental trigger for autoimmune response in Type 1 diabetes. In the present study, our aim was to investigate the antibody response to bovine beta-casein in different immune- and non-immune-mediated diseases and to establish whether such an antibody response is specific to Type 1 diabetes. We measured antibodies to bovine beta-casein using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in a total of 519 sera from subjects as follows: 71 patients with Type 1 diabetes, 33 patients with coeliac disease, 100 patients with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), 50 patients with autoimmune thyroid disease (ATD), 50 patients with Type 2 diabetes, 24 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), and 3 different groups of controls (n = 191). Significantly increased levels of antibodies to beta-casein were found in patients with Type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease and in LADA compared to age-matched controls (p = 0.01, p = 0.02 and p = 0.01, respectively). No differences were observed in beta-casein antibody titres between patients with other disease conditions (MS, and ATD) and age-matched controls. The highest antibody response to beta-casein in Type 1 diabetic patients and in patients with coeliac disease could reflect the gut mucosal immune disorders common to Type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease. Furthermore, the elevated beta-casein antibody levels found in LADA patients suggest that the antibody response to this protein may be relevant in autoimmune diabetes.