A complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors can trigger the immune-mediated mechanism responsible for type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) establishment. Environmental factors may initiate and possibly sustain, accelerate, or retard damage to β-cells. The role of environmental factors in this process has been exhaustive studied and viruses are among the most probable ones, especially enteroviruses. Improvements in enterovirus detection methods and randomized studies with patient follow-up have confirmed the importance of human enterovirus in the pathogenesis of T1DM. The genetic risk of T1DM and particular innate and acquired immune responses to enterovirus infection contribute to a tolerance to T1DM-related autoantigens. However, the frequency, mechanisms, and pathways of virally induced autoimmunity and β-cell destruction in T1DM remain to be determined. It is difficult to investigate the role of enterovirus infection in T1DM because of several concomitant mechanisms by which the virus damages pancreatic β-cells, which, consequently, may lead to T1DM establishment. Advances in molecular and genomic studies may facilitate the identification of pathways at earlier stages of autoimmunity when preventive and therapeutic approaches may be more effective.
Keywords: Auto-immune diabetes; Coxsackievirus; Enterovirus; Pathogenesis; Type 1 diabetes mellitus; Virus.