Viral infection of engrafted human islets leads to diabetes.

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Diabetes 2015 Apr; 64(4):1358-1369.








Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is characterized by the destruction of the insulin-producing β-cells of pancreatic islets. Genetic and environmental factors both contribute to T1D development. Viral infection with enteroviruses is a suspected trigger for T1D but a causal role remains unproven and controversial. Studies in animals are problematic because of species-specific differences in host cell susceptibility and immune responses to candidate viral pathogens such as coxsackie B virus (CVB). In order to resolve the controversial role of viruses in human T1D, we developed a viral infection model in immunodeficient mice bearing human islet grafts. Hyperglycemia was induced in mice by specific ablation of native β-cells. Human islets, which are naturally susceptible to CVB infection, were transplanted to restore normoglycemia. Transplanted mice were infected with CVB4 and monitored for hyperglycemia. Forty-seven percent of CVB4-infected mice developed hyperglycemia. Human islet grafts from infected mice contained viral RNA, expressed viral protein, and had reduced insulin compared to grafts from uninfected mice. Human-specific gene expression profiles in grafts from infected mice revealed the induction of multiple interferon stimulated genes. Thus, human islets can become severely dysfunctional with diminished insulin production following CVB infection of β-cells, resulting in diabetes. Diabetes 2015 Apr; 64(4):1358-1369.

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