Diabetes

A common group of viruses is strongly linked to type 1 diabetes

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New research presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, Stockholm, Sweden (19-23 September) reveals that type 1 diabetes (T1D) is strongly linked to a common group of viruses.

The Australian study found that people with T1D were eight-times more likely to get an enterovirus infection than people without T1D.

T1D, the most common type in children with diabetes, is on the rise. The immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the Pancreas of those with this condition. This prevents the body from producing enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.

High blood sugar levels can cause damage to the eyes, heart, feet, kidneys, and kidneys over time. This can reduce life expectancy. If not treated promptly, diabetic ketoacidosis (a condition that is often diagnosed with T1D) can cause serious complications.

Although it is not clear what triggers the immune system to attack, it is believed to be a combination genetic predisposition and environmental triggers like a virus infection.

The enteroviruses are the most likely to be implicated in virus involvement. This group of viruses is very common and includes those that cause polio, hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), and other types that cause milder symptoms that resemble colds.

Clinical trials have already begun for vaccines that prevent the spread of T1D. A confirmation of the role played by enteroviruses in T1D would be a strong support for this and other efforts to prevent it.

Sonia Isaacs of the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health School of Clinical Medicine at University of New South Wales, Australia conducted a systematic review and metaanalysis of existing research to better understand the relationship.

The meta-analysis—the largest in this field—included data on 12,077 participants (age 0-87 years) from 60 controlled observational studies found on the PubMed and Embase databases.

5.981 participants had T1D (or islet autoimmunity), which typically progresses into T1D. The remaining 6,096 participants had neither.

Enterovirus RNA or Protein, a sign that there is a current or recent infection was detected in blood samples, stool and tissue samples using a variety advanced molecular techniques.

People with islet immune system had twice the chance of testing positive for enteroviruses than those without.

The odds of contracting enterovirus infection in people with T1D were eight times higher than those without.

Most importantly, people with T1D were more likely to get an enterovirus infection than those who didn’t have T1D.

Researchers conclude that enterovirus infection is associated with both islet autoimmunity as well as T1D.

Ms. Isaacs added, “These findings support ongoing work to develop vaccines that prevent the development islet autoimmunity. This will reduce the incidence of T1D.”

There are many theories as to why enteroviruses increase the likelihood of developing T1D. For example, it is possible that they interact with certain genes.

Ms. Isaacs explained, “Our study revealed that people with T1D who had both a first-degree relative with T1D and genetic risk were 29 times more likely than others to get an enterovirus infection.” It may be important to consider the timing, duration, and even the location of enterovirus infection. The “leaky gut” hypothesis suggests that viruses from the gut could travel with activated immune cells to other parts of the body, such as the pancreas. An autoimmune response can result from a persistent, low-level infection and inflammation.

“Virus infections can also be combined with other factors, such as diet, imbalances within the gut microbiome, and chemical exposures that may occur in utero (during childbirth) or early childhood. There is still much to be learned.


Type 1 Diabetes could be caused by virus infection that remains in the gut.


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