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Can COVID-19 Trigger Diabetes?


By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 3, 2020 (HealthDay Information) — A COVID-19 an infection may cause lots of severe, typically lingering well being issues, like lung injury, kidney injury and ongoing coronary heart points. Recently, analysis has urged it could additionally trigger the sudden onset of insulin-dependent diabetes.

A brand new report particulars the case of a 19-year-old German with asymptomatic COVID-19 an infection who ended up hospitalized with a brand new case of insulin-dependent diabetes.

5 to seven weeks earlier than his diabetes developed, the younger man’s dad and mom developed COVID-19 signs after an Austrian ski journey. Finally, the whole household was examined. Each dad and mom examined optimistic for COVID-19 antibodies, as did the 19-year-old, indicating all had been contaminated with the coronavirus. Nonetheless, the son had by no means had signs of the an infection.

When the 19-year-old was admitted to the hospital, he was exhausted, had misplaced greater than 26 kilos in a number of weeks, was urinating often and had left-sided flank ache. His blood sugar degree was over 550 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) — a standard degree is lower than 140 mg/dL on a random blood take a look at.

Medical doctors suspected he had type 1 diabetes. He examined optimistic for a genetic variant that’s hardly ever related to kind 1 diabetes, however not genetic variants generally current in kind 1. He additionally did not have antibodies that individuals with kind 1 diabetes often have at analysis.

New kind of diabetes?

This left the consultants puzzled. Was this kind 1 or type 2 diabetes or some new kind of diabetes? If it is not kind 1 diabetes, may this sudden onset diabetes go away by itself? And eventually, they could not make sure that the COVID-19 an infection induced the diabetes. It is doable it was a preexisting condition that hadn’t but been identified.

Nonetheless, the authors of the research, led by Dr. Matthias Laudes of College Medical Centre Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, Germany, imagine they’ve a believable clarification for a way COVID-19 infections may result in a brand new and sudden diabetes analysis. Their report is within the Sept. 2 Nature Metabolism.

Beta cells within the pancreas include a major variety of so-called ACE2 receptors. These receptors are believed to be the place the spike protein from the coronavirus attaches to cells. Beta cells produce insulin, a hormone that helps usher the sugar from meals into the physique’s cells for gas. The authors theorized {that a} coronavirus an infection, which impacts the ACE2 receptors, may also injury beta cells within the pancreas.


This course of is much like what’s believed to happen in kind 1 diabetes. The immune system mistakenly activates wholesome cells (autoimmune assault) after a viral infection and damages or destroys beta cells, presumably inflicting kind 1 diabetes. Somebody with kind 1 diabetes has little to no insulin. Traditional kind 1 diabetes requires lifelong insulin injections or supply of insulin by way of an insulin pump.

Dr. Caroline Messer, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York Metropolis, mentioned she’s heard there’s been an uptick in autoimmune diabetes because the pandemic began.

She mentioned the authors’ suggestion that beta cells could also be destroyed in COVID infections is sensible.

“This might account for the uptick in antibody unfavorable kind 1 diabetes,” she mentioned. “It will be significant for practitioners to concentrate on the potential for insulin-dependent diabetes roughly 4 weeks after an infection despite unfavorable [type 1 diabetes] antibodies.”

Sanjoy Dutta, vp of analysis for JDRF (previously the Juvenile Diabetes Analysis Basis), mentioned, “I do not assume that is kind 1 or type 2 diabetes. I believe it needs to be referred to as new onset or sudden onset insulin-dependent diabetes.”

Monitoring these circumstances

Dutta mentioned there have been sufficient of those circumstances in COVID sufferers {that a} registry has been created to maintain monitor of their frequency. It contains greater than 150 medical facilities all through the world.

He mentioned folks with sudden onset diabetes additionally appear to have important insulin resistance and want very excessive doses of intravenous insulin. Insulin resistance is extra frequent in type 2 diabetes.

He has additionally learn of diabetes circumstances which have reversed — not requiring insulin, which doesn’t occur with kind 1 diabetes.

“We have to know the mechanism behind these circumstances, and till we get extra proof, we must always keep open-minded. We do not know if it is beta cell destruction. It is too quickly for this to be boxed in as kind 1 diabetes,” Dutta famous.

A brand new research from the College of Florida could put a damper on the German authors’ idea. They seemed on the pancreases of 36 deceased folks with out COVID, and did not discover ACE2 of their beta cells.


Their discovering “doesn’t present assist to the notion that you will develop diabetes as a result of the coronavirus goes in and destroys a person’s insulin-producing cells,” senior writer Mark Atkinson, director of the UF Diabetes Institute, mentioned in a college information launch.

The UF research was simply revealed as a preprint on the web site bioRxiv.org. Preprint web sites let scientists distribute analysis rapidly. Nonetheless, info on them has not been peer-reviewed and needs to be thought-about preliminary.

Dutta mentioned regardless of the mechanism may be, most of the people and well being care suppliers needs to be alert for signs of diabetes after a COVID-19 an infection. These embody excessive fatigue, dry mouth, excessive thirst, frequent urination and unexplained weight reduction.

WebMD Information from HealthDay


SOURCES: Caroline Messer, M.D., endocrinologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York Metropolis; Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D., vp, analysis, JDRF;Nature Metabolism, Sept. 2, 2020; College of Florida Well being, information launch, Sept. 2, 2020

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