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Gerontology. 2013;59(2):99-104. doi: 10.1159/000345107. Epub 2012 Nov 24.

Diabetes and infection: is there a link?--A mini-review.

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Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Department of Medicine 1, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Diabetes mellitus is one of the most prevalent conditions in the elderly and is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality, mainly from cardiovascular and renal complications. Furthermore, common perception associates diabetes with a generally increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, although epidemiologic data that would prove this are surprisingly scarce. However, it seems to be confirmed that diabetes predisposes to certain types of infection and death thereof, but it is less well understood if metabolic disturbances in diabetes itself, associated hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia or diabetes-associated comorbidities provide the link between diabetes and susceptibility to infections. In this review, I will summarize published reports on the incidence and risk for infectious diseases in diabetic people and give a comprehensive overview of the molecular mechanisms that have been suggested to explain the potentially altered immune response to pathogens in patients with diabetes.

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