Childhood Virus Linked To Increased Type 1 Diabetes Risk

shutterstock_26603674A common virus that affects children is said to accelerate the development of type 1 diabetes in mice. According to researchers from the University of Melbourne, a rotavirus infection that causes severe diarrhea in kids may also aggravate or fast track the development of diabetes. The findings were published in PLOS Pathogens journal.

According to the researchers, a rotavirus infection and its link to type 1 diabetes development may be attributed to the “bystander effect.” This effect happens when the virus triggers a strong activation of the immune system. As the immune system tries to fight off the virus infection, the effect spills over to other healthy cells in the body. As the immune cells fight off the viral intruder, it also starts to attack the body’s own cells. In this case, the immune system tries to attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

According to Associate Professor Barbara Coulson of the the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and lead researcher of the said study, “This bystander mechanism provides a potential explanation for the acceleration of type 1 diabetes development by rotavirus infection in mice.”

“It is possible that the same process could operate following human rotavirus infection, and lead to a more rapid progression of children towards type 1 diabetes. Further studies are needed to determine the relevance of our findings to humans,” she further added.

Trying to understand how the rotavirus affects the type 1 diabetes development in humans can someday help researchers find preventive ways to treat children at risk of this disease. One possible example is by reducing the type of immune response brought about by a rotavirus infection.

Source: University of Melbourne. (2014, March 31). Childhood virus may increase type 1 diabetes risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 2, 2014 from


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