Isolation of a virus from the pancreas of a child with diabetic ketoacidosis

N Engl J Med. 1979 May 24;300(21):1173-9. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197905243002102.


A healthy 10-year-old boy was admitted to the hospital in diabetic ketoacidosis within three days of onset of symptoms of a flu-like illness. He died seven days later and post-mortem examination showed lymphocytic infiltration of the islets of Langerhans and necrosis of beta cells. Inoculation of mouse, monkey and human cell cultures with homogenates from the patient's pancreas led to isolation of a virus. Serologic studies revealed a rise in the titer of neutralizing antibody to this virus from less than 4 on the second hospital day to 32 on the day of death. Neutralization data showed that the virus was related to a diabetogenic variant derived from Coxsackievirus B4. Inoculation of mice with the human isolate produced hyperglycemia, inflammatory cells in the islets of Langerhans and beta-cell necrosis. Staining of mouse pancreatic sections with fluorescein-labeled antiviral antibody revealed viral antigens in beta cells. Both the clinical picture and animal studies suggested that the patient's diabetes was virus induced.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis
  • Child
  • Coxsackievirus Infections / complications*
  • Coxsackievirus Infections / microbiology
  • Coxsackievirus Infections / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / etiology*
  • Enterovirus B, Human / immunology
  • Enterovirus B, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Islets of Langerhans / microbiology*
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Male
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Viral Plaque Assay
  • Virus Cultivation


  • Antibodies, Viral