Enteroviruses, hygiene and type 1 diabetes: toward a preventive vaccine

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Enteroviruses and humans have long co-existed. Although recognized in ancient times, poliomyelitis and type 1 diabetes (T1D) were exceptionally rare and not epidemic, due in large part to poor sanitation and personal hygiene which resulted in repeated exposure to fecal–oral transmitted viruses and other infectious agents and viruses and the generation of a broad protective immunity. As a function of a growing acceptance of the benefits of hygienic practices and microbiologically clean(er) water supplies, the likelihood of exposure to diverse infectious agents and viruses declined. The effort to vaccinate against poliomyelitis demonstrated that enteroviral diseases are preventable by vaccination and led to understanding how to successfully attenuate enteroviruses. Type 1 diabetes onset has been convincingly linked to infection by numerous enteroviruses including the group B coxsackieviruses (CVB), while studies of CVB infections in NOD mice have demonstrated not only a clear link between disease onset but an ability to reduce the incidence of T1D as well: CVB infections can suppress naturally occurring autoimmune T1D. We propose here that if we can harness and develop the capacity to use attenuated enteroviral strains to induce regulatory T cell populations in the host through vaccination, then a vaccine could be considered that should function to protect against both autoimmune as well as virus-triggered T1D. Such a vaccine would not only specifically protect from certain enterovirus types but more importantly, also reset the organism's regulatory rheostat making the further development of pathogenic autoimmunity less likely. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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