How a Virus Can Trigger Diabetes

According to the World Health Organization, around 1.6 million people worldwide died due to diabetes in 2016. It is estimated that 425 million people are living with diabetes all over the world. By 2045, projections show this number rising to some 629 million diabetics globally. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the pancreas cannot produce insulin, whereas type 2 diabetes is the body’s resistance to insulin.

Previous studies have linked viruses to diabetes, and recent studies have suggested that enteroviruses could potentially trigger diabetes, although its direct effect in vivo as well as its mechanism of action at the molecular level were unknown. A recent mouse study by researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) reveals how the enterovirus coxsackievirus type B4 (CVB4) could induce diabetes.

Their findings, “Coxsackievirus B Type 4 Infection in β Cells Downregulates the Chaperone Prefoldin URI to Induce a MODY4-like Diabetes via Pdx1 Silencing,” is published in Cell Reports Medicine and led by Nabil Djouder, PhD, group leader at CNIO.

The researchers suggest their findings could be of relevance for the COVID-19 pandemic, since clinical information indicates a possible relationship between SARS-CoV-2 viral infection and diabetes. The researchers suggest that since the receptor of SARS-CoV-2 is expressed in the endocrine pancreas, it could operate and lead to diabetes in a similar way that CVB4 does, independently of immune reactions.

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