Chapter I. Pathogenesis

Rev Diabet Stud, 2012, 9(4):236-247 DOI 10.1900/RDS.2012.9.236

Metabolomics in the Studies of Islet Autoimmunity and Type 1 Diabetes

Matej Oresic

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Tietotie 2, Espoo, FIN-02044 VTT, Finland

Manuscript submitted December 23, 2012; resubmitted January 21, 2013; accepted February 8, 2013.

Keywords: allostasis, autoimmunity, biomarker, lipid metabolism, lipidomics, metabolomics, systems biology


The metabolome is sensitive to genetic and environmental factors contributing to complex diseases such as type 1 diabetes (T1D). Metabolomics is the study of biochemical and physiological processes involving metabolites. It is therefore one of the key platforms for the discovery and study of pathophysiological phenomena leading to T1D and the development of T1D-associated complications. Although the application of metabolomics in T1D research is still rare, metabolomic research has already advanced across the full spectrum, from disease progression to the development of diabetic complications. Metabolomic studies in T1D have contributed to an improved etiopathogenic understanding and demonstrated their potential in the clinic. For example, metabolomic data from recent T1D studies suggest that a specific metabolic profile, or metabotype, precedes islet autoimmunity and the development of overt T1D. These early metabolic changes are attributed to many biochemical pathways, thus suggesting a systemic change in metabolism which may be inborn. Based on this evidence, the role of the metabolome in the progression to T1D is therefore to facilitate specific biochemical processes associated with T1D, and to contribute to the development of a vulnerable state in which disease is more likely to be triggered. This may have important implications for the understanding of T1D pathophysiology and early disease detection and prevention.

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