Diabetes can be transmitted by kissing

Herpes virus can also trigger diabetes

15.01.2009

Not only type 1 diabetes, but also a form of type 2 diabetes could be due to a virus infection ...

Viruses are not only the trigger for acute illnesses such as AIDS, flu or diarrhea, chronic illnesses such as autoimmune diseases or cancer can also be caused by the pathogens. According to the latest findings from French doctors, a form of adult diabetes may also be due to herpes viruses, reports the Association of German Internists (BDI).

According to the scientists, so-called ketotic diabetes, a special form of type 2 diabetes, could be triggered by an infection with the type 8 herpes virus: In their study, almost 90% of the patients examined had traces of an infection with the herpes virus. Virus on (JAMA 2008, 299: page 2770). That was more than twice as many as in a comparison group of non-diabetics. The researchers were also able to show that the viruses can infect insulin-producing cells in the pancreas under laboratory conditions.

Immune reaction after virus infection

A connection between viruses and diabetes has long been suspected - but only in type 1 diabetes. According to this, a viral infection in childhood could trigger an autoimmune reaction of the body, whereby the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed and thus an insulin deficiency is triggered. What is new, however, is the possible link to a form of type 2 diabetes.

The type 8 herpes virus is particularly widespread in the African population: 40 to 50% of people there carry the pathogen, in most cases without any visible external symptoms. In Europe, on the other hand, only 1 to 3% of the population are infected. The virus can be transmitted through saliva and other body fluids, e.g. when kissing or having sexual intercourse. Ketotic diabetes mellitus may therefore occur primarily in Africa. It sets in very suddenly and is associated with greatly increased blood sugar levels and over-acidification of the blood and must be treated with immediate insulin doses. After stabilization, the insulin therapy can be stopped and then treated with tablets like normal type 2 diabetes.

Ketotic diabetes in Germany too?

"So far there is no evidence that common type 2 diabetes, from which almost 7 million people in Germany suffer, could be traced back to a viral disease," says Dr. Thorsten Siegmund from the BDI. A lack of exercise and a corresponding genetic predisposition are the main causes of type 2 diabetes. “If the results of the study can be confirmed in further studies, however, it cannot be ruled out that this type of diabetes is spreading with the type 8 herpes virus could also occur more frequently in Germany, "warns the diabetologist from the Bogenhausen Clinic in Munich.