Is it time to challenge the established theories surrounding type 1 diabetes?

Acta Paediatr. 2014 Feb;103(2):120-3. doi: 10.1111/apa.12452.


Type one diabetes (T1D) seems a well-defined disease, but its classification may be difficult. Evidence is weak that an autoimmune process with insulitis causes loss of the beta cells in all patients. Some scientists propose that it may be caused by a virus, increased hygiene or the early introduction of cow's milk or gluten, while views about the nerve supply, vascular function and the beta cells own role tend to be disregarded. Immune interventions have had limited success. There are differences, but also similarities, between T1D and type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Conclusion: Several views on T1D have become so widely accepted that they may actually hamper progress into the true cause of this disease. Research on T1D needs to be carried out with an open mind, and clinicians might be wise to recommend a lifestyle that aims to decrease both the risk of T1D and T2D.

Keywords: Aetiology; Autoimmunity; Pathogenesis; Type 1 diabetes; Type 2 diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmunity*
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / classification
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Insulin / deficiency
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells


  • Insulin