Introduction: Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is the causative agent of paratuberculosis or Johne's disease in ruminants. Its role in triggering autoimmunity, including type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM), has been reported in recent years. Due to the high contamination rate of MAP in Iran's livestock and the increasing outbreak of T1DM, we investigated this association in a small group of patients with T1DM in Iran.
Methodology: Blood samples of 29 T1DM patients and 29 healthy control subjects were tested through enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to detect antibodies against MAP3865c and ZnT8 homologous epitopes and the presence of MAP DNA. Blood samples were also cultured in mycobacterial growth indicator tubes and Herrold's egg yolk medium containing mycobactin J.
Results: The results of ELISA showed a significant difference between T1DM patients and healthy group. IS900 was also detected in 51.72% of T1DM patients but in none of the control group. None of the samples grew in culture media.
Conclusions: Due to the presence of MAP DNA and antibodies against MAP peptides in a significant number of T1DM patients compared with healthy control subjects, we may consider MAP as a possible trigger of T1DM in Iran. This indicates that exposure to MAP occurred in the positive subjects. Identifying the sources of contamination and routes of MAP transmission to humans seems necessary to prevent and reduce the burden of MAP infection in Iran.