Viral Infections May Cause Type 1 Diabetes
It is well known amongst medical experts that viral infections may enhance or elicit autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic autoimmune disease that destroys the bodies insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Viruses have the ability to trigger overreactive T-cells that destroy insulin producing cells in the pancreas and have been isolated in pancreatic tissues from diabetic patients. However, research has not confirmed or denied that viruses are the main cause for type 1 diabetes.
The reason is that when studying the virus and type 1 diabetes relationship in mice and humans, scientist were able to confirm without a doubt that viruses cause diabetes in mice. This result was not clear in humans, since the T-cells responsible for targeting and destroying insulin producing cells in mice, were very low in number when observed in humans. With the low number of T-cells in the observed in the pancreas of the human subjects, it was concluded that infection is not the main cause of reducing insulin producing cells for type 1 diabetes. To further the investigation of viruses causing type 1 diabetes, researches looked at vaccine prevention. It was shown in certain populations that those who were vaccinated against mumps, measles, and rubella had a lower incidence of diabetes diagnosis than those not vaccinated. On the other hand, this was not seen in all populations studied and in fact, more diabetes cases was observed amongst those vaccinated. Insight into hygiene and economic status was reviewed but did not produce any meaningful results to confirm viruses cause type 1 diabetes.
You may be thinking that the viral infection hypothesis was debunked based on the above experimental results but that is not the case. The body is very complex and scientist do not yet understand the state of advancement of autoimmunity and will have to study in detail the infection history of every individual diabetic patient.
This information was originally published on the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website.