DOI: 10.1093/cei/uxad139 ISSN: 0009-9104

A novel, high-performance, low-volume, rapid luciferase immunoprecipitation system (LIPS) assay to detect autoantibodies to zinc transporter 8

C L Williams, I Marzinotto, C Brigatti, K M Gillespie, V Lampasona, A J K Williams, A E Long,
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy



Zinc transporter 8 autoantibodies (ZnT8A) are thought to appear close to type 1 diabetes (T1D) onset and can identify high-risk multiple (≥2) autoantibody positive individuals. Radiobinding assays (RBA) are widely used for ZnT8A measurement but have limited sustainability. We sought to develop a novel, high-performance, non-radioactive luciferase immunoprecipitation system (LIPS) assay to replace RBA.


A custom dual C-terminal ZnT8 (aa268-369; R325/W325) heterodimeric antigen, tagged with a NanoluciferaseTM(Nluc-ZnT8) reporter, and LIPS assay was developed. Assay performance was evaluated by testing sera from new onset T1D (n=573), healthy schoolchildren (n=521), and selected first-degree relatives (FDRs) from the Bart’s Oxford family study (n=617; 164 progressed to diabetes).


In new-onset T1D, ZnT8A levels by LIPS strongly correlated with RBA [Spearman’s r=0.89; p<0.0001), and positivity was highly concordant (94.3%). At a high specificity (95%), LIPS and RBA had comparable assay performance [LIPS pROC-AUC(95) 0.032 (95% CI: 0.029-0.036); RBA pROC-AUC(95) 0.031 (95% CI: 0.028-0.034); p=0.376]. Overall, FDRs found positive by LIPS or RBA had a comparable 20-year diabetes risk (52.6% and 59.7%, respectively), but LIPS positivity further stratified T1D risk in FDRs positive for at least one other islet autoantibody detected by RBA (p=0.0346).


This novel, high-performance, cheaper, quicker, higher throughput, low blood volume Nluc-ZnT8 LIPS assay is a safe, non-radioactive alternative to RBA with enhanced sensitivity and ability to discriminate T1D progressors. This method offers an advanced approach to current strategies to screen the general population for T1D risk for immunotherapy trials and to reduce rates of diabetic ketoacidosis at diagnosis.

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