Common Virus Associated With Type 2 Diabetes Later In Life
August 28, 2012

Common Virus Associated With Type 2 Diabetes Later In Life

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

A common, yet normally dormant virus has been found to cause diabetes later in life in people who are infected with it. The virus, known as cytomegalovirus (CMV), can infect anyone and once a person is infected, he or she has the virus for life. However, in most people, CMV causes no ill effects.

The link was found by researchers from Leiden University Medical Center (the Netherlands) and University of Tubingen Medical School (Germany). Findings of their research are reported in the journal Immunity and Ageing on August 27, 2012.

The researchers found that CMV is a significant risk factor for the onset of type 2 diabetes. One of the first signs of diabetes is insulin resistance, and increased insulin resistance is typically associated with obesity, lack of exercise, and age. But only 33 percent of people that have insulin resistance go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

The link between CMV and diabetes was profound. What the research team found, based on a study of 500 people in the Leiden 85-plus Study, was that people with CMV were more than three times as likely to develop diabetes over those who never had the virus. They surmised that a long duration of stress from having CMV produced either direct infection of the pancreas that produces diabetes or inhibited the immune system from protecting the pancreas from CMV.

While the study only demonstrated the effect in people 85 and older, the team indicates that a vaccine that overcomes CMV would lead to fewer cases of diabetes later in life.

“In our study we realized that although CMV seropositivity was associated with type 2 diabetes, higher levels of HnA1c and high non-fasting glucose the actual level of antibodies against CMV was not,” explained Dr. Andrea Maier, the lead investigator in the study.