Recent case-control studies reported an increased frequency of antibodies against Coxsackie virus (CV) antigens in patients with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes and during pregnancy in mothers of diabetic offspring, suggesting a role for CV infections in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes (T1D). However, it is not known whether CV infections are causally related to the development of islet autoantibodies or merely represent secondary events in subjects already affected with established islet autoimmunity. Therefore we have prospectively evaluated CV infections from birth, prior to and in parallel with the appearance of islet autoantibodies in offspring of parents with T1D. Using indirect ELISAs, IgG-antibodies (abs) against a panel of CV, and IgG- and IgM-abs to CVB3, CVB4, and CVB5 were measured at 9 months, 2, 5, and 8 years in 28 offspring of mothers or fathers with T1D or of mothers with gestational diabetes who developed persistent islet antibodies (IAA, GADA, IA-2A), and compared to 51 islet autoantibody-negative offspring matched for place and date of birth. CV infections were also determined at delivery in 16 mothers whose offspring developed islet autoantibodies later in life and compared to 110 mothers (matched for HLA-DR, place and date of birth) whose offspring remained islet autoantibody-negative during early childhood. CV-antibodies were detected in only 2/28 (7.1%) offspring who developed islet autoantibodies during follow up and in 7/51 (13.7%) offspring without islet autoantibodies (median follow up time 3.0 years, range 2.0-8.7). CV-IgG abs were detected in one mother (6.3%), whose offspring developed islet autoantibodies during early childhood, compared to 15 mothers (13.6%) with islet autoantibody-negative offspring (P=0.5). Also, partum levels of CV-IgG and CVB3-, -4-, and -5-IgM abs were similar in both groups (median 35 U, 0.08 index (I), 0.08, 0.05 vs. 35 U, 0.06 I, 0.11, and 0.06, resp., P> 0.35 in each case). These data make it unlikely that CV infections during pregnancy or in early childhood play a major role in the induction of islet autoimmunity in offspring of mothers or fathers with T1D or of mothers with gestational diabetes.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.