New Insights Into Adult-Onset Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition affecting millions of young individuals globally, is not exclusive to childhood. As much as half of all cases are diagnosed during adulthood, and there is a need to understand factors contributing to the development of type 1 diabetes in adults. A new study at Karolinska Institutet now provides new insights into the development of the disease in adults. The results are presented in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Yuxia Wei, photo: Jingwei Zhao

The research, conducted at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, was based on data from over 2.8 million individuals, and the aim was to compare the heritability of type 1 diabetes in adults and children. The findings indicate that having a first-degree relative with the condition significantly increases the risk of developing type 1 diabetes as an adult and the risk is higher if the relative developed diabetes early. Overall, heritability is lower for type 1 diabetes in adults than children.

Yuxia Wei, PhD student at the Institute of Environmental Medicine and first author, notes:

– Our study provides new insights on the causes of type 1 diabetes in adults. The lower heritability in adults suggests that environmental factors play a larger role for disease development in adults than children.

Sofia Carlsson

Sofia Carlsson, photo: Stefan Zimmerman

Implications for Future Research and Interventions

The study underscores the need for further research to identify environmental factors contributing to adult-onset type 1 diabetes.

– Understanding these factors is crucial for developing targeted interventions to prevent the disease’s development, Sofia Carlsson, senior lecturer at the Institute of Environmental Medicine adds.

The study is financed by the Research Council, the Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, the Diabetes Foundation and China Scholarship Council.


Familial aggregation and heritability of childhood-onset and adult-onset type 1 diabetes: a Swedish register-based cohort study

Yuxia Wei, Shengxin Liu, Tomas Andersson, Maria Feychting, Ralf Kuja-Halkola, Sofia Carlsson

Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology


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