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February 28, 2011

Infection and Early Diabetes Risk

We've understood for some time that Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the beta cells are casualties of a T-cell mediated autoimmune attack. As a result, researchers hypothesized that environmental triggers could play some roll in the onset of the disease. It appears they are one step closer in their understanding, as reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2011; 2011; 342:d35 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d35 (Published 3 February 2011):

There is a clinically significant association between enterovirus infection, detected with molecular methods, and autoimmunity/type 1 diabetes.

First, note that enteroviruses are second only to the "common cold" viruses, the rhinoviruses, as the most common viral infectious with an estimated 10-15 million cases per year in the United States.

Second, the study was a retrospective analysis of published reports. This is a common method and accepted approach although there are limitations due to the difficulty in normalizing results across diverse study protocols.

Third, the study found a clear relationship between the presence of an enterovirus infection and type 1 diabetes. However, causality was not proven --- the results provide 'additional support to the direct evidence of enterovirus infection in pancreatic tissue of individuals with type 1 diabetes'. That is, the two are often observed together.

Posted by Diabetologica at February 28, 2011 1:33 AM


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