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Clin Diagn Virol. 1998 Apr;9(2-3):77-84.

Enterovirus infections and insulin dependent diabetes mellitus--evidence for causality.

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Department of Virology, University of Tampere, Medical School, Finland.



Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) has a long subclinical period characterised by gradually progressing autoimmune damage of insulin producing beta-cells. Clinical IDDM is manifested when 90% of beta-cells have been destroyed. Several studies have indicated that enterovirus infections, coxsackievirus B (CVB) infections especially, are frequent at the manifestation of clinical IDDM suggesting that they can precipitate the symptoms of IDDM in individuals who already have an advanced beta-cell damage. Recently, the first prospective studies have been published suggesting that enterovirus infections can also initiate the process several years before clinical IDDM. This implies that enterovirus infections may have a crucial role in the pathogenesis of human IDDM.


The recent findings have brought up the question whether the time has come when a causal association between enterovirus infections and IDDM could finally be confirmed. This review focuses on this question summarising the current knowledge and the prospects of future research.


Review of the recent progress in studies evaluating the role of enterovirus infections in human IDDM.


The currently available information supports the assumption that the role of enterovirus infections may be more important than previously estimated. Enterovirus infections are obviously associated with increased risk of IDDM, but whether this association reflects causal relationship remains to be confirmed in future studies. Prospective birth-cohort studies will be among the most important ones giving important data on the etiologic fraction of enterovirus infections, the properties of diabetogenic virus variants and the mechanisms of beta-cell damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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