Send to

Choose Destination
Clin Invest Med. 1987 Sep;10(5):457-69.

Effects of environmental factors on the development of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Julia McFarlane Diabetes Research Unit, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


The development of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is thought to be dependent on either the autoimmunity or the interaction of environmental agents with the pancreatic beta cells, or both in a genetically susceptible host. As environmental factors affecting the induction of type I diabetes, diabetogenic chemicals and viruses are likely candidates as primary injurious agents for pancreatic beta cells in man and animal. A number of structurally diverse chemicals including alloxan, streptozotocin, chlorozotocin, vacor, and cyproheptadine are diabetogenic mainly in rodents and sometimes in man. The possible mechanisms for the beta cell destruction by these chemicals include (a) generation of oxygen free radicals and alteration of endogenous scavengers of these reactive species; (b) breakage of DNA and consequent increase in the activity of poly ADP ribose synthetase, and enzyme depleting NAD in beta cells; and (c) inhibition of active calcium transport and calmodulin-activated protein kinase activity. Regarding viruses, a number of different viruses including encephalomyocarditis virus, Mengovirus, Coxsackie B viruses, and Reoviruses can infect and destroy pancreatic beta cells mainly in rodents and sometimes in humans. In the murine model, the development of encephalomyocarditis and Coxsackie B virus-induced diabetes is dependent on the genetic background of the host and the genetic makeup of the virus. Mengo-2T virus has caused diabetes in strains of mice resistant to encephalomyocarditis virus-induced diabetes. In contrast to encephalomyocarditis virus, Coxsackie B viruses, and Mengovirus, reovirus type 1 seems to be somewhat associated with an autoimmune response in the induction of diabetes. In addition to the murine model, cotton rats become diabetic when inoculated with Mengovirus 2T. Furthermore, cumulative environmental insults with Coxsackie B viruses and chemicals result in diabetes in non-human primates. In man, there may be 2 possible roles for viruses in the pathogenesis of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The one is acute cytolytic infection of beta cells (e.g., Coxsackie B viruses), which may sometimes induce diabetes in genetically predisposed individuals, and the other one is slow and persistent infection (e.g., congenital cytomegalovirus and Rubella), which may induce autoimmunity, leading to type I diabetes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center