HERPES VIRUS and increased incidence of type 2 diabetes

The herpes virus family consists of about a hundred viruses, including 8 human viruses. 2 of these viruses could contribute to impaired glucose metabolism and increase the risk of diabetes in infected people, reveals this study, conducted at Ludwig-Maximilians University (Munich).

Herpes viruses are among the most common viruses in humans, with 8 types currently known: herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and 2, varicella zoster virus (VZV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) , cytomegalovirus (CMV) and human herpes virus. (HHV) 6, 7, and 8. All cause lifelong latent infections in their hosts after a primary infection that is usually mild or asymptomatic.

Diabetes is also a metabolic disease with a high prevalence in the general population. It is estimated that 9.3% of the world population has diabetes. The factors of diabetes are multiple, behavioral, environmental, and genetic, and until recently, it had not been commonly proposed that viruses might play a role in the aetiology of diabetes.

HSV2 and CMV found to be associated with incidence of (pre)diabetes

The study took into account the health data of 1,967 people with a mean age of 54 years, participants in the KORA (Health Research Cooperative in the Augsburg Region) cohort who had undergone detailed health examinations at baseline (2006-2008). ) and during follow-up (2013-2014), including tests for human herpes virus infection, glucose tolerance tests, measurement of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c). The researchers took into account potential confounding factors, including gender, age, BMI, level of education, smoking, physical activity, family history of diabetes and high blood pressure. The analysis finds:

  • a prevalence of prediabetes of 27.5% at baseline and 36.2% at follow-up;
  • type 2 diabetes in 8.5% of participants at baseline and 14.6% at follow-up;
  • Of the 1,257 participants with normal glucose tolerance at baseline, 364 developed prediabetes and 17 developed type 2 diabetes during the 6.5 years of follow-up;
  • age, BMI, smoking and educational level are confirmed as factors associated with the risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes;
  • Blood tests performed at the start of the study revealed that EBV was the most common herpes virus with 98% of participants seropositive, followed by HSV1 (88%), HHV7 (85%), VZV (79% ) and CMV (46%). , HHV6 (39%) and HSV2 (11%);
  • on average, participants were seropositive for an average of 4.4 herpesviruses at baseline and 4.7 during follow-up;
  • 34% of participants tested positive for more herpesviruses at the end of follow-up;
  • Of the 7 herpesviruses examined, HSV2 and CMV were found to be associated with the incidence of (pre)diabetes in participants who had normal glucose tolerance at baseline, independent of other risk factors;
  • participants with HSV2 have a 59% increased risk of developing (pre)diabetes compared to participants without HIV;
  • participants with CMV have a 33% increased risk of developing (pre)diabetes compared to participants without HIV;

HSV2 and CMV viruses appear “contribute in a coherent and complementary way to the development of (pre)diabetes”,

the researchers write.

  • HSV2 infection was also found to be associated with HbA1c levels, independent of other confounding factors, and the prevalence of (pre)diabetes.

In summary, Although the incidence of (pre)diabetes is mainly explained by its main risk factors, such as age, BMI, cholesterol and fasting blood sugar, HSV2 and CMV also contribute to the level of risk.

What mechanisms? “These mechanisms remain to be discovered. HSV2 and CMV cause chronic infections that could modulate the immune system by stimulating or suppressing its activity, potentially influencing endocrine (hormonal) system function.”the researchers suggest here.

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