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Flu and diabetes are linked

on Mon, 11/05/2012 - 10:48

A link between influenza A virus and type 1 diabetes has been discovered by the research team led by Ilaria Capua, group leader of the World Organisation for Animal Health reference laboratory for avian flu in Legnaro, Italy. Type 1 diabetes often appears suddenly after an infection and is caused by an inflammatory response that targets the pancreatic cells that produce insulin, destroying them. For these reasons, a connection between this disease and a viral trigger has been hypothesized in the last 40 years, but nobody managed to demonstrate it.
Capua’s team tested this hypothesis in vivo on an avian model and in vitro on human pancreatic cell lines; they found that influenza infection may lead to pancreatitis and diabetes in humans and other mammals. A further confirmation of these results seems to come from several reports from Japan and Italy of many newly diagnosed cases of type 1 diabetes in people who had recently had flu, and an increase in type 1 diabetes after the 2009 swine flu pandemic.