Aims/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to investigate the genetic aetiology of permanent diabetes mellitus with onset in the first 12 months of age. Methods: We studied 46 probands with permanent, insulin-requiring diabetes with onset within the first 6 months of life (permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus [PNDM]/monogenic diabetes of infancy [MDI]) (group 1) and eight participants with diabetes diagnosed between 7 and 12 months of age (group 2). KCNJ11, INS and ABCC8 genes were sequentially sequenced in all patients. For those who were negative in the initial screening, we examined ERN1, CHGA, CHGB and NKX6-1 genes and, in selected probands, CACNA1C, GCK, FOXP3, NEUROG3 and CDK4. The incidence rate for PNDM/MDI was calculated using a database of Italian patients collected from 1995 to 2009. Results: In group 1 we found mutations in KCNJ11, INS and ABCC8 genes in 23 (50%), 9 (19.5%) and 4 (8.6%) patients respectively, and a single homozygous mutation in GCK (2.1%). In group 2, we identified one incidence of a KCNJ11 mutation. No genetic defects were detected in other loci. The incidence rate of PNDM/MDI in Italy is estimated to be 1:210,287. Conclusions/interpretation: Genetic mutations were identified in ~75% of non-consanguineous probands with PNDM/MDI, using sequential screening of KCNJ11, INS and ABCC8 genes in infants diagnosed within the first 6 months of age. This percentage decreased to 12% in those with diabetes diagnosed between 7 and 12 months. Patients belonging to the latter group may either carry mutations in genes different from those commonly found in PNDM/MDI or have developed an early-onset form of autoimmune diabetes. © 2011 The Author(s).
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