Type I diabetes may be an autoimmune disorder, although the evidence is largely circumstantial. The natural history of the disease after diagnosis includes partial remission in most patients, but only about 3 percent achieve transient insulin independence. beta Cell function, as indicated by the plasma concentration of C-peptide, is lost over 6 to 30 months and islet cell antibodies disappeared over 1 to 2 years. This article describes a pilot study in which 41 patients were treated with the immunosuppressive agent cyclosporine for 2 to 12 months. Of 30 patients treated within 6 weeks of diagnosis, 16 became insulin independent with concentrations of plasma C-peptide in the normal range and decreasing titers of islet cell antibodies. Of 11 patients who entered the study 8 to 44 weeks after diagnosis, two achieved this state. These results indicate that a controlled trial of the effects of cyclosporine in type I diabetes should be conducted.

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