Pancreas Antibody Blood Testing for Type 1 Diabetes

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The Pancreas

The pancreas is an organ located in the middle of the upper quadrant of the abdomen, and it is responsible for various activities such as the metabolism of glucose, fat, and protein. The pancreas can be adversely affected by chronic alcoholism and the incidence rates of pancreatic cancer are increasing every year. It is a multi-function organ with a pancreatic duct that is joined to release its contents directly into the common bile duct of the gall bladder and liver. The pancreas is well known for its implication in the medical condition called diabetes.

An Overview of Type 1 Diabetes

Diabetes can be diagnosed as - Type 1 diabetes, which is more in younger people or known as insulin-dependent diabetes, or - Type 2 diabetes which is known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes.

The word “dependence” refers to the fact that someone with type 1 must use insulin injections to control the diabetes, but someone with type 2 does not always need to take insulin.

In both types the person will experience a high blood sugar level due to the lack or decrease in the amount of the hormone insulin by the Beta cells of the pancreas. These beta cells are located within the islet of Langerhans in the central structure of the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes Beta cells are inactivated early in life by a mechanism that is thought to relate to immune system destruction of the cells.

The Pancreas Antibody Blood Test For Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes has more of a stronger genetic inheritance than type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can sometimes be considered to be a form of autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease occurs when a person’s body recognizes its own cells as foreign. This results in an immune response against the body’s own cells. The white blood cells will attack parts of the pancreatic cells or the receptors that the hormone insulin attach’s to. Another way in which type 1 diabetes can result is in a body fighting off an infection. The virus or bacteria causes the body to become weakened, and the pancreas becomes either infected or involved in producing nutrients to sustain the person. In either incidence, the increased amount of antibodies damages the beta cells that produce insulin leading to high blood glucose levels.

The diagnosis can be further confirmed by doing a pancreas antibody blood test for type 1 diabetes. Blood is taken by venipuncture, and collected into a plastic vial to be examined at a laboratory. It will be examined for detection of antibodies that are currently circulating in the blood.

What Do The Test Results Mean?

A positive result for the pancreas antibody blood test for type 1 diabetes means that there is confirmation that a child or adult has circulating islet cell antibodies such as the ICA, IA2, GAD25, and IAA antibodies. Yet these antibodies are not used solely to confirm type 1 diabetes. They are used along with HB1Ac levels (level of red blood cells that have had glucose added to their cell membranes because of a high level of glucose in the blood). The pancreas antibody blood test for type 1 diabetes is also used in combination with urine and blood glucose levels, and in a small number of cases, by measuring the amount of actual antibodies to insulin.


Print Source: Cotran R, Kumar V, and Robbins, SL. 1999. Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease, 6th Ed. W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia.

Web Source: Ruth Roberts, The Diabetes Mall. “What Type of Diabetes Do I Have?” 2010. Available: