What is Monogenic Diabetes?


The most common types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In every type of diabetes, the patient’s blood sugar levels are high because there is not enough insulin to keep the blood sugar levels normal.

There is another type of diabetes that is often misdiagnosed as type 1 or type 2 diabetes, called “monogenic diabetes.” Different types of monogenic diabetes include neonatal diabetes and MODY (maturity onset diabetes of the young).

Monogenic diabetes happens when there is a mutation in a single gene of the diabetic person. The human body has about 30,000 individual genes. So far, more than 20 genes have been linked to monogenic diabetes. An mutation in any one of these genes can cause a child or adult to develop monogenic diabetes.  Some examples include:

  • MODY, most commonly caused by mutations in the HNF1A gene or the GCK gene
  • Neonatal diabetes, most commonly caused by mutations in the KCNJ11ABCC8 or INS genes

Scientists do not yet understand exactly why genetic mutations occur. If an individual has a mutated gene, this mutation may be passed from parents to their children. Some mutations occur spontaneously in an individual, and some are down from one generation to the next.

Learn more about the genetics of monogenic diabetes.


Did You Know?

Some forms of monogenic diabetes have symptoms that are moderate or absent, such as MODY caused by a mutation in the GCK gene. Frequently, this condition causes such mild changes in blood sugar levels that it remains unnoticed, and only comes to light during a routine health screening.  With rare exception, GCK-MODY requires no treatment at all.

Other forms of monogenic diabetes have more serious effects on blood sugar levels and will cause long-term complications without treatment. Patients might need frequent insulin injections and other medical interventions.