Background: Ljungan virus (LV) has not confirmed to associate with any human disease, but a possible connection with type 1 diabetes has been suggested. LV is a rodent-borne picornavirus that induces a diabetes-like condition in rodents. Approximately 30% of adults and 60% of children are seropositive in Finland. The Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention study enabled the use of very well characterized sample panels from children seroconverted to positivity for multiple islet autoantibodies during their prospective observation from birth; in addition, samples from age, sex, human leukocyte antigen (HLA), and residence area matched control children.
Methods: We analyzed LV IgG seroprevalence in 102 case children (65 had also developed type 1 diabetes), in addition to nondiabetic control children. LV and human parechovirus (HPeV) immunofluorescence assays were used to analyze LV and HPeV-specific IgG from 102 plasma samples taken at the time of islet autoantibody appearance and from 204 samples from the matched control children.
Results: Altogether 46.1% of the case and 50.7% of the control children were positive for LV IgG (odds ratio 0.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.47-1.36; P = 0.416) and 67.6% versus 79.8% were positive for HPeV IgG, respectively (odds ratio 0.49, 0.27-0.9, P = 0.023).
Conclusions: Thus, no risk associations between LV or HPeV-specific IgG and islet autoimmunity were observed. However, a trend for significantly higher prevalence of HPeV antibodies in control children (P = 0.023) suggests a possible protective association of this virus with islet autoimmunity.