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Tests and Procedures

Diabetes Autoantibody Panel

Does this test have other names?

Islet autoantibodies and diabetes mellitus autoantibody panel

What is this test?

This blood test checks for substances called antibodies. These are made by your body in response to insulin and other chemicals related to insulin. Your doctor uses this test to find out whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is more common in children, teens, and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. It can happen at any age.

Among the antibodies tested for are:

  • Islet cell cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ICA)

  • Glutamic acid decarboxylase autoantibodies (GADA)

  • Insulinoma-associated-2 autoantibodies (IA-2A)

  • Insulin autoantibodies (IAA)

If some combination of these antibodies is present in high levels, it could mean you have type 1 diabetes. Or it could mean you are at risk of developing it. These antibodies often show up years before symptoms begin. So this test is useful if you have a family history of type 1 diabetes.

Because people with type 2 diabetes don't have these antibodies, the test is also useful to tell one type of diabetes from the other.

Why do I need this test?

You may need this blood test to confirm that you have type 1 diabetes.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

The diabetes antibody panel is just one test used to check for type 1 diabetes. Your doctor healthcare provider may also order a C-peptide test or an insulin assay test.

Before having a diabetes antibody panel to find out if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you may have a random or fasting plasma glucose test. Or you may have an oral glucose tolerance test. A fasting plasma glucose test is a blood test done after you fast for 8 hours. In an oral glucose tolerance test, your blood is checked after you fast for a certain period and then drink a special sugary solution. Many healthcare providers will also do a test called a hemoglobin A1C. This test is used to check for type 2 diabetes. 

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare provider.

In general, if the antibodies are present, you could have type 1 diabetes. Or you could be at risk of developing it. If no antibodies are present, you might have type 2 diabetes.

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.

What might affect my test results?

Taking insulin before the test will prevent an accurate result.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use. 

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