A randomized trial of nicotinamide and vitamin E in children with recent onset type 1 diabetes (IMDIAB IX)

OBJECTIVE: Various adjuvant therapies have been introduced along with intensive insulin therapy in patients with recent onset type 1 diabetes. Nicotinamide (NA), administered at diagnosis of the disease, can have beneficial effects on the clinical remission rate, improve metabolic control and preserve or slightly increase beta-cell function, probably by reducing toxicity due to free oxygen radicals. Vitamin E, a known antioxidant, inhibits lipid peroxidation; this can lead to protection of islet beta cells from the combined effects of interleukin 1, tumor necrosis factor and gamma interferon. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether the addition of vitamin E to NA could improve metabolic control and the residual beta-cell function, as measured by C-peptide secretion, in children and adolescents with recent onset type 1 diabetes; patients were followed-up for 2 years after diagnosis.

PATIENTS AND STUDY DESIGN: Recent onset type 1 diabetes patients (n=64, mean age 8.8 years) were recruited by participating centres of the IMDIAB group. Thirty-two patients were randomized to NA (25 mg/kg body weight) plus vitamin E (15 mg/kg body weight); 32 patients acted as controls and received NA only at the same dose as above. Intensive insulin therapy was applied to both treatment groups.

RESULTS: There were three drop outs during the 2-year follow-up period. Overall, patients assigned to the NA+vitamin E group or the NA group did not significantly differ in terms of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, insulin requirement or baseline C-peptide secretion. Patients diagnosed at an age of less than 9 years showed significantly reduced C-peptide levels compared with those aged over 9 years at diagnosis and at the 2-year follow-up but there were no differences between the NA and NA+vitamin E treated groups. However at 6 months, patients over 9 years of age treated with NA+vitamin E showed significantly higher C-peptide compared with the NA group (P<0.003). In both age groups and in the different treatment groups, C-peptide levels found at diagnosis were preserved 2 years later.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of NA alone, or in combination with vitamin E, along with intensive insulin therapy is able to preserve baseline C-peptide secretion for up to 2 years after diagnosis. This finding is of particular interest for pre-pubertal children with type 1 diabetes and has never been reported before.