Corneal confocal microscopy (CCM) has been used to identify corneal nerve damage and increased Langerhans cell (LC) density in adults with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether corneal confocal microscopy can identify early corneal nerve damage and change in LC density in children and adolescents with T1DM. 64 participants with T1DM (age-14.6 ± 2.5 years, duration of diabetes-9.1 ± 2.7 years, HbA1c-75.66 ± 2.53 mmol/mol [9.1 ± 1.8%]) and 48 age-matched healthy control subjects underwent CCM. Sub-basal corneal nerve morphology and the density of mature and immature LCs was quantified. Corneal nerve fibre length and branch density were lower, whilst fibre density and tortuosity did not differ and both immature and mature LC density was significantly higher in T1DM compared to control subjects. There was no association between HbA1c and duration of diabetes with nerve fibre parameters or LC’s density. Children and adolescents with T1DM demonstrate early immune activation and nerve degeneration.
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