Several commercial insulin preparations were found to contain significant quantities of pancreatic glucagon, pancreatic polypeptide (P.P.), vasoactive intestinal peptide (V.I.P.)) and somatostatin, though these substances were effectively absent from the new highly purified or monocomponent insulins. Of 448 insulin-dependent diabetics receiving conventional insulins, 63% had circulating antibodies to human P.P., 6% antibodies to V.I.P., 6% to glucagon, and 0·5% to somatostatin. The antibodies were of high affinity and were commonest in the younger diabetics. No antibodies were detected in 167 maturity-onset diabetics, in 125 healthy controls, or in 22 patients treated only with monocomponent insulin. Immunocythochemical testing showed that antibody-positive diabetic plasmas reacted specifically against the corresponding hormone-producing pancreatic endocrine cells, against enteroglucagon and somatostatin cells outside the pancreas, and against V.I.P.-containing autonomic nerves throughout the body. The finding of iatrogenic auto-immunity to naturally occuring hormones in large numbers of insulin-dependent diabetics raises important questions about long-term treatement.
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