Diabetes can be caused by a virus

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 25.02.2021

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01 February 2021, 09:00

Viruses are really insidious and sometimes unpredictable infectious agents. It turns out that some of them are able to "confuse" the insulin cells in the pancreas, which leads to a malfunction of the organ.

It is known that the development of type I diabetes starts with an autoimmune attack on the pancreas. And type II diabetes is a consequence of metabolic disorders, obesity, eating disorders, etc. At the same time, practically no one talks about the viral origin of the disease, although such information has existed for a long time: scientists have established that "diabetes viruses" belong to the Coxsackie viral infection from enteroviral series. Infection with the Coxsackie virus is sometimes accompanied by unexpressed clinical symptoms, but it can also cause serious severe manifestations - in particular, myocarditis, pancreatitis, and even such a complication as diabetes.

Researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Center have described the CVB4 virus that can cause diabetes. Scientists have introduced the infection into the artificially formed insulin cells of the pancreas of rodents and humans. In addition, insulin-producing structures were transplanted from humans to rodents and then the virus was injected. CVB4 was found to inhibit the URI protein substance that controls various cell functions. After suppression of URIs, the Pdx1 gene quieted down in the cellular genome, on which the finding and identification of β-cells that synthesize insulin depends.

When the Pdx1 gene is switched off, β-cells lose their functional orientation, stop responding to metabolic signals, and stop producing and producing insulin. In other words, a viral infection disorients the insulin cells of the pancreas. Again, after the cells artificially stimulate the production of the URI protein substance, they "come to life" and return to their functionality.

Scientists did more than just research on cellular structures. They performed a kind of test of the relationship between the activity of the Pdx1 gene and the protein component of the URI with viral infection in the pancreas in patients with diabetes. The assumption was confirmed: in patients with the virus, the URI protein substance and the Pdx1 gene were practically inactive. Thus, a similar scheme works in the human body, which makes it possible to think about the development of new antidiabetic drugs. New drugs should be aimed at driving the virus out of the pancreas (or destroying it) and activating the functionality of the Pdx1 gene and the protein component of the URI. It is likely that such drugs will be relevant not only for the treatment of viral diabetes, but also for other etiological varieties of the disease.

By the way, type I diabetes can be caused by another viral cause: some viral agents have proteins that are similar in structure to insulin. When the immune system starts attacking a viral invasion, it simultaneously attacks the cells of the pancreas.

The work of scientists is described on the page

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