Human parechovirus and the risk of type 1 diabetes

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Human parechoviruses (HPeVs) are RNA viruses associated mainly with mild gastrointestinal and respiratory infections in children and also cause neonatal sepsis and CNS infections. Human enteroviruses, close relatives of HPeVs, associate with the development of type 1 diabetes. In this study, the potential role of HPeV infections in promoting beta cell autoimmunity was investigated by analyzing stool samples of 54 prediabetic case and 134 healthy control children for the presence of HPeV RNA and comparing the derived infection frequencies. All 188 children were participants of the Finnish prospective Diabetes Prediction and Prevention study. Viral RNA was screened for using an HPeV-specific RT-PCR method coupled to liquid hybridization of the PCR product. The overall HPeV infection frequency did not differ between prediabetic case and control children. However, case boys had more HPeV positive samples in the 6-month period before becoming autoantibody positive, when compared to the matching time-period in controls (P < 0.01). HPeV infection at a young age does not appear to play a major role in the development of beta-cell autoimmunity. In boys, however, HPeVs showed time-dependent association with the first detection of diabetes-associated autoantibodies. Thus, in boys, HPeV infections cannot be excluded as a gender-specific risk factor which promotes the development of type 1 diabetes. J. Med. Virol. 85:1619-1623, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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