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A diagnostic approach for defining idiopathic remitting diabetes: a retrospective cohort study

Tarig Babiker12, Ali J Chakera12, Maggie Shepherd12 and Andrew T Hattersley12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Exeter, UK

2 NIHR Exeter Clinical Research Facility, University of Exeter Medical School, Barrack Road, Exeter EX2 5DW, UK

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BMC Endocrine Disorders 2014, 14:45  doi:10.1186/1472-6823-14-45

Published: 9 June 2014



11 patients were referred to our Molecular Genetics Department at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital between 2000-2012 with a physician’s diagnosis of remitting diabetes. Our aim was to identify patients with remitting diabetes whose clinical presentation is not explained by any known aetiology of diabetes.


We obtained longitudinal clinical data on all 11 patients from the hospital records. All patients were aged between 0.5 and 35 years at diagnosis. We applied clinical criteria derived from the literature to establish 1) definite diabetes, 2) diabetes initially severe-requiring treatment with insulin, 3) remission of diabetes, and 4) exclusion of known causes of remitting diabetes.


10 out of 11 patients had an alternative explanation for their remission or a clear diagnosis was not identified. We identified a single patient with idiopathic remitting diabetes using these criteria. The patient was a white Caucasian female diagnosed aged 15 with symptoms of diabetes, laboratory glucose of 21.2 mmol/L and HbA1c 134 mmol/mol. Her BMI was 23.6 kg/m2. She was treated with basal bolus insulin but discontinued two years after diagnosis due to hypoglycaemia. 13 years post diagnosis, she had a normal oral glucose tolerance test during pregnancy (fasting glucose 4.5 mmol/L, 2 hr glucose 4.8 mmol/L) and an HbA1c of 30 mmol/mol. This patient does not appear to have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and furthermore does not fit into current classifications of diabetes.


Idiopathic remitting diabetes is rare but does exist. Strict clinical criteria are important to ensure patients have a robust clinical diagnosis. Identification of more patients with idiopathic remitting diabetes will enable further study of the clinical course of this syndrome. Applying these strict criteria will allow the identification of patients with remitting diabetes to assess its aetiology.

Diabetes; Remission; Criteria; Diagnosis; Remitting diabetes