Type 1 diabetes linked strongly to common enterovirus
New evidence links type 1 diabetes to a cold related and common virus.The cause of type 1 or juvenile diabetes has been poorly understood, but long believed to be an autoimmune disorder. New evidence strongly links the disease to enterovirus infection that is extremely common.
Past studies link virus and autoimmunity to diabetes
Past research has linked enterovirus to type 1 diabetes, but strong evidence has been lacking. The increased rates of diabetes among children prompted a new study from Australian researchers who reviewed 24 studies and two abstracts involving 4,448 participants.
In a phase I clinical trial, BCG vaccine was found to reverse diabetes by boosting TNF (tumor necrosis factor) in the bloodstream. TNF has been found to suppress autoimmunity and diabetes in mice, leading to the study for development of the vaccine for diabetes and supporting the current findings.
A UK study, published March, 2009 also found enterovirus was present in the pancreas of 60 percent of children who died from type 1 diabetes. Forty percent of adults with type 2 diabetes studied also had the viral DNA on examination of pancreatic tissue in the former study.
The findings showed children with enterovirus were 10 times more likely to have type 1 diabetes compared to non-diabetics. The enterovirus consists of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and protein. Though the virus is common, many infected individuals have no symptoms, according to information from the CDC.
RNA from enterovirus found in children with type 1 diabetes
There are 60 types of the cold related viruses that can cause infection. Manifestations include mild respiratory and flu like symptoms, primarily in children. Enterovirus can also cause rash and less commonly meningitis. Infections are more prevalent in summer and fall months.
RNA from enterovirus can be detected in stool, tissue and blood samples. For the current study, researchers had measured RNA levels and compared the results to non-diabetics, finding the strong observational association between enterovirus and type 1 diabetes.
The findings also showed children with pre-diabetes were three times more likely to have the enterovirus compared to other children.
The researchers say the findings are observational and should be confirmed in larger studies. "Larger prospective studies are needed to establish a clear temporal relation between enterovirus infection and the development of autoimmunity and type 1 diabetes", they conclude.
The findings do support a clear link between diabetes and the common enterovirus that produces mild symptoms of respiratory illness and flu like symptoms primarily among children and noted in a commentary accompanying the study from Professor Didier Hober and Famara Sane from the University of Lille in France.
The new study strongly supports there is a link between the common cold related enterovirus and type 1 diabetes that has also been found in past studies. Ongoing research is recommended to establish how the virus might lead to autoimmune dysfunction and diabetes.
Updated January 18, 2014
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