Is type 2 diabetes an autoimmune disease? To answer this question, there is need for us to first know what theautoimmune disorder term ‘Autoimmunity‘ means. Autoimmunity  is a highly complex, multi-factorial that is usually  process defined by loss of self-tolerance and the reaction of  B and T cells. It is excessively chronic, which also stem danger signals that are released when cells or tissues undergo abnormal cell death. Autoimmunity is a well-known pathogenic component in type 1 diabetes. The assumption that the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes also encompasses autoimmune aspects is being increasingly recognized.


Autoimmune disease refers to illness that occurs when the immune system of the body attacks and destroys cells there in. Autoimmune is a disease that I believe that many people with diabetes will have been familiar with by now.  And we have always believed type 2 diabetes may be cause by the combination of genes. And even lifestyle because even experts have argued upon the importance of environmental factors , lifestyle, and gene in the development of Type 2 diabetes. Some studies however have connected diabetes to pollution and toxins. They have provided energy to the speculation that autoimmunity plays a role in the growth of type 2 diabetes.

According to the US centres for disease control and Prevention. Close to 26 millions of people in Americaautoimmune disease suffer from diabetes, not to talk of other people around the world. The most common cases of this diabetes are type 2 diabetes, which is about 90 to 95% of the entire population. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not either produce insulin or it ignores the presence of insulin in the body. The presence of insulin in the body is very important so that it can use glucose to produce energy.

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How do Sugar Works?

Whenever we eat, sugar and glucose are broken down into glucose so as to fuel the cells in the body. When there is excess glucose in the body that is not taken to the cells as it normally should, it leads to complications that lead to diabetes. In type 1 diabetes that is known to be an autoimmune disease, the body fails to produce insulin because the immune systems do destroy the cells that normally produce insulin. The immune system serves as the body’s protection against substances that are harmful to it which include bacteria, viruses and toxins, which contain antigens which are harmful.

In cases of some diseases like diabetes, the immune system is not able to distinguish between healthy and harmless tissue. And antigens so because of this it mistakenly attacks and destroy normal cell which are the insulin-producing beta cells. So type 2 diabetes is the type of diabetes that occur when the tissue of the body gradually continue to be more and more resistant to insulin which is the hormone that cleans up the dietary glucose and moves it to cells in order to convert it to energy.


Until now, the real cause of type 2 diabetes is still unknown. We do not know why the tissues become resistant to insulin. Usually Obesity is a common one. It runs in theautoimmune disorder family but there are many theories about what causes it to malfunction including:

  • Environmental irritants
  • Virus or bacteria
  • Chemical irritants
  • Drugs





Apart from the fact that autoimmune reaction destroys the body tissue. There is also the possibility of it affecting the way the organsautoimmune disorder function. It can also cause an organ to grow abnormally. Autoimmune disorders can affect the following areas in the human body:

More than one of these parts of the body can be affected at once. This is why some people may suffer from more than one autoimmune disease at the same time.


An author of a new study that was published in Nature Magazine sometimes back makes us to understand that Type 2 diabetes is in the process of being given a new and different definition whereby it will be known as an autoimmune disease, rather the way we have being viewing it as a metabolic disorder. This study directly addressed the currently unrealized connection between autoimmunity and Type 2 diabetes. The result of this research may lead to new treatments for type 2 diabetes. Such that will deal with the immune system instead of the treatments intended to control blood sugar level.

The authors of this study, which include Daniel Winer (who is an endocrine pathologist at the University Health Network of the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada.) Shawn Winer (University of Toronto, at the hospital for sick children) Edgar Engleman (a Stanford pathology Professor and director of the school’s blood centre ) and Lei Shen ( Stanford research associate) There have been discovery that brings type 2 diabetes close to type 1 diabetes (the type where the immune systems attempts to cause damage and may eventually destroys the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. The research work was the kind that changes the impression of people towards obesity and will also have a lasting impact on medicine because it will make physician to change their focus to treatments that will modulate immune system towards curing type 2 diabetes.


autoimmune disease As part of the study, it was shown to us by the researchers that there’s an antibody, which is anti-CD20 by name. For their study (the mouse experiment), the researchers tested the blood samples of 32 obese males among them, half had insulin resistance. Screening processes where carried out for antibodies ( the protein that the immune system creates to attack harmful substances).

Test Information

The mice, five weeks earlier, have been fed with a high fat diet that was expected to cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is commonly associated with people that are over-weight. And has been known to be the real source of the strong connection between obesity and the increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The mice were then given a drug, known as anti-CD20. This drug suppresses the immune system and this was done by eliminating a type of immune system called B cells. There was no sign of insulin resistance in the mice that were given this drug while other mice that were not given the drug developed insulin resistance.

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This result suggests that in the mice that were obese, which can also be the case in humans, the attack of the immune system on fat cells that is provoked by B cells is what causes insulin resistance. This antibody that targets and kills the mature B cells that are in the immune system was able to stop the lab mice from developing type 2 diabetes and was also able to restore their blood sugar level to normal. Daniel Winer said that the findings from their research “highly suggestive” that the development of insulin resistance in humans is certainly connected to the body targeting its own proteins. “It really links the concept of insulin resistance to autoimmunity,” Daniel Winer concluded.

The Anti-CD20

This has already been approved as a treatment for some autoimmune diseases. It is available under the trade names Rituxan and MabThera in the US but there is still need for more research so that we will know if it will work against type 2 diabetes in humans so, The researchers warned against concluding that Rituximab will work like that in humans, especially if they have already been confirmed to have type 2 diabetes.

Winner also made it known to us that the mice and human in the study were both male. So it is still not clear to us if the findings of the study are also applicable to female too. According to him, there might be side effects from using anti-CD20. Genetic component can be explain why type 2 diabetes also runs even in families.  From these study results, there is hope for possible future treatment and prevention of the disease. Winer thinks that there is the possibility of developing vaccines against type 2 diabetes in the nearest future “if we could identify a panel of antibodies that might protect against developing insulin resistance”.


`Is type two diabetes an autoimmune disease? The possibility is certain! It should be understood now that this aliment isn’t anyone’s fault. Also people might also suspect that their diabetes might have been contributed to by toxins and chemical. This are associated with autoimmunity. Now that autoimmunity seems to be involved in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We therefore cannot say for sure if the rancour between the two groups of condition will still continue. But as Engleman said that even as the result of their research “strongly suggest that immune modulation should be considered as a potential human therapy”. “Diet and exercise are still the best ways to prevent type-2 diabetes in humans”. Diabetes management can only be managed by this 2 events.

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