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Which genes are responsible for the onset of type 1 diabetes?

Researchers have identified several different genes that might make a person more likely to develop type 1 diabetes. However, they have not found one single gene that makes all people who inherit it develop the disease. Instead, it seems that there are several genes known as “diabetes susceptibility” genes. One particular set of genes that may predispose a person to diabetes is responsible for a set of proteins known as the human leukocyte antigens, or HLAs. These genes code for certain proteins called antigens, which identify a person’s own cells as “self.”  They tell the immune cells not to destroy the cells that are part of a person’s body. Scientists believe that some HLAs incorrectly tag a person’s own beta cells as “non-self.” Then the immune cells, which normally destroy foreign invading cells, destroy these cells. This is called autoimmunity—an immune attack on a person’s own cells. In type 1 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed in an autoimmune attack, and the body can no longer make insulin. This destructive process occurs over many months or years.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.