Virus infections in type 1 diabetes

Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine
Ken T CoppietersM G von Herrath

Abstract

The precise etiology of type 1 diabetes (T1D) is still unknown, but viruses have long been suggested as a potential environmental trigger for the disease. However, despite decades of research, the body of evidence supporting a relationship between viral infections and initiation or acceleration of islet autoimmunity remains largely circumstantial. The most robust association with viruses and T1D involves enterovirus species, of which some strains have the ability to induce or accelerate disease in animal models. Several hypotheses have been formulated to mechanistically explain how viruses may affect islet autoimmunity and β-cell decay. The recent observation that certain viral infections, when encountered at the right time and infectious dose, can prevent autoimmune diabetes illustrates that potential relationships may be more complex than previously thought. Here, we provide a concise summary of data obtained in mouse models and humans, and identify future avenues toward a better characterization of the association between viruses and T1D.

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