How a virus might make you diabetic later in life

August 27, 2012

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the viruses that most infected people carry without ill effects. Once infected you are infected for life and, although it normally is dormant, it can become active again at any point in time. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Immunity and Ageing shows that CMV infection is a significant risk factor for the type 2 diabetes in the elderly.

Obesity, inactivity and aging are known to be associated with insulin resistance, one of the first signs of incipient diabetes. However only a third of those with go on the develop type 2 diabetes. So what marks these people as different? Why do their pancreas' fail? Genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a part but so also does inflammation. People with type 2 diabetes usually have raised levels of biological markers for inflammation such as elevated CRP and larger numbers of active .

Chronic infections including CMV can 'stress' the immune system and when researchers from Leiden University Medical Centre and University of Tubingen Medical School compared with antibodies to CMV (or CMV seropositivity) in over 500 participants of the Leiden 85-plus Study they found that having CMV was associated with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers suggest that CMV could be either acting directly on or indirectly by causing the immune system attacking the pancreas. Dr Andrea Maier, who led the investigation explained, " In our study we realised that although CMV seropositivity was associated with , higher levels of HnA1c and high non- the actual level of antibodies against CMV was not. "

This study is looking at the effect of CMV on the very old. By their very nature these people have had longer to become infected with CMV and have low risks for other factors which are linked to diabetes or to cardiovascular disease. While it may not be possible to extrapolate these findings to the general population it seems likely that finding a way to overcome CMV infections may reduce diseases, such as diabetes, later in life.

Explore further: Researchers show long-term consequences of chronic virus infection

More information: Cytomegalovirus seropositivity is associated with glucose regulation in the oldest old. Results from the Leiden 85-plus Study Sijia Chen, Anton JM de Craen, Yotam Raz, Evelyna Derhovanessian, Ann CTM Vossen, Westendorp GJ Rudi, Graham Pawelec and Andrea B Maier Immunity & Ageing (in press)

Related Stories

Researchers show long-term consequences of chronic virus infection

August 16, 2012
The cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a member of the herpesvirus family. Although most people carry CMV for life, it hardly ever makes them sick. Researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and from the USA have ...

Test approved to help treat common infection in transplant patients

July 5, 2012
(HealthDay) -- The first DNA test to help doctors treat a common viral infection in people who have had a solid organ transplant has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Study reveals optimal treatment for most common infection after organ transplantation

August 23, 2012
Waiting to treat the commonest viral infections in transplant recipients until they reach a certain threshold is better than prophylactically treating all recipients, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of ...

Treatment of common virus can reduce tumour growth

September 27, 2011
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to inhibit the growth of brain tumours by treating the common Cytomegalovirus (CMV). The virus, which is found in a wide ...

Recommended for you

Immune system can be modulated by targeted manipulation of cell metabolism

August 21, 2017
In its attempt to fight a serious bacterial infection, caused by listeria, for example, the immune system can become so over-activated that the resulting inflammatory response and its consequences can quickly lead to death. ...

Australian researchers in peanut allergy breakthrough

August 17, 2017
Australian researchers have reported a major breakthrough in the relief of deadly peanut allergy with the discovery of a long-lasting treatment they say offers hope that a cure will soon be possible.

Genetic variants found to play key role in human immune system

August 16, 2017
It is widely recognized that people respond differently to infections. This can partially be explained by genetics, shows a new study published today in Nature Communications by an international collaboration of researchers ...

Study identifies a new way to prevent a deadly fungal infection spreading to the brain

August 16, 2017
Research led by the University of Birmingham has discovered a way to stop a deadly fungus from 'hijacking' the body's immune system and spreading to the brain.

Biophysics explains how immune cells kill bacteria

August 16, 2017
(Tokyo, August 16) A new data analysis technique, moving subtrajectory analysis, designed by researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology, defines the dynamics and kinetics of key molecules in the immune response to an infection. ...

How a nutrient, glutamine, can control gene programs in cells

August 15, 2017
The 200 different types of cells in the body all start with the same DNA genome. To differentiate into families of bone cells, muscle cells, blood cells, neurons and the rest, differing gene programs have to be turned on ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.