Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to properly regulate blood glucose, either because of the inability to produce sufficient amounts of insulin or the inability to use insulin effectively. Diabetes is diagnosed through a series of blood tests, one of which is the glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies test.
GAD antibodies are found in approximately 70 to 80 percent of individuals with newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetes. They are also detected in individuals with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), also referred to as slow-developing type 1 diabetes.
What are GAD Antibodies?
When the immune system detects harmful substances in the body, such as a virus or a bacteria, it produces proteins called antibodies. Antibodies can be produced and released by mistake if the immune system recognizes healthy tissue as harmful.
GAD antibodies are produced to target an enzyme called glutamic acid decarboxylase or GAD. GAD is a substance needed by the pancreas to function properly. Therefore, a harmful response towards this enzyme will affect the effectiveness of the pancreas.
What is the Role of GAD?
GAD is an enzyme found in the pancreas that is necessary for the synthesis of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. Neurotransmitters are essential structures in the process of nerve messaging. GABA is an amino acid that reduces nerve transmission in beta pancreatic cells.
What Causes GAD Antibody Production?
An antigen is a foreign substance that prompts a response from the immune system, such as producing antibodies, in order to destroy the invading substance. Autoantigens are normal cells in the body that can trigger an immune response against its own cells. GAD can act as an autoantigen, prompting the production of GAD antibodies.
GAD antibodies target insulin-producing pancreatic cells. When this happens, an autoimmune disorder develops. As the pancreatic cells are attacked, the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin is compromised, signifying the onset of diabetes.
Seeking Help & Diabetes Management
If you are experiencing any symptoms of diabetes, speak to your doctor. It is essential to diagnose diabetes early and start managing the condition as soon as possible to prevent the development of further health complications.
Managing diabetes begins with a visit to your doctor. Your diabetes care team will work with you to develop a daily plan that you will need to follow in order to keep blood glucose levels within a designated range. Adults diagnosed with diabetes who test positive for GAD antibodies are more likely to need insulin in order to manage their diagnosis. A touch screen insulin pump with continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) integration can help individuals with diabetes manage blood glucose levels in a modern way that fits their lifestyle. Using a pump with CGM can make it much easier and more convenient to stay on top of glucose levels and manage insulin therapy accordingly.
Talk to your doctor to learn more about how you may be affected. Knowledge is the first step to understanding and staying ahead of health complications as well as managing any symptoms of diabetes.
Nora Charles is a freelance writer that has worked with many bloggers for several years now.