Unexpected viral behavior linked to type 1 diabetes in high-risk children

New results from The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study show an association between prolonged enterovirus infection and the development of autoimmunity to the insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells that precedes type 1 diabetes (T1D). Notably, researchers also found that early adenovirus C infection seemed to confer protection from autoimmunity. The full findings were published Dec. 2 in Nature Medicine.

Viruses have long been suspected to be involved in the development of T1D, an autoimmune condition, although past evidence has not been consistent enough to prove a connection. Investigators from the University of South Florida Health (USF Health) Morsani College of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, and other institutions studied samples available through the TEDDY study, the largest prospective observational cohort study of newborns with increased genetic risk for T1D, to address this knowledge gap. TEDDY studies young children in the U.S. (Colorado, Georgia/Florida, and Washington State) and in Europe (Finland, Germany, and Sweden).

“Years of research have shown that T1D is complex and heterogeneous, meaning that more than one pathway can lead to its onset,” said lead author Kendra Vehik, Ph.D., MPH, an epidemiologist and professor with the USF Health Informatics Institute. “T1D is usually diagnosed in children, teens and young adults, but the autoimmunity that precedes it often begins very early in life.”

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