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Keywords:

  • type 1 diabetes;
  • Kilham rat virus;
  • encephalomyocarditis virus;
  • macrophages;
  • T cells;
  • cytokines;
  • pancreatic β cells

Abstract: More than 10 viruses have been reported to be associated with the development of type 1 diabetes-like symptoms in animals, with the best evidence coming from studies on the D variant of encephalomyocarditis (EMC-D) virus in mice and Kilham rat virus (KRV) in rats. A high titer of EMC-D viral infection results in the development of diabetes within 3 days, primarily due to the rapid destruction of β cells by viral replication within the cells. A low titer of EMC-D viral infection results in the recruitment of macrophages to the islets. Soluble mediators produced by activated macrophages play a critical role in the destruction of residual β cells. A single amino acid at position 776 of the EMC viral genome controls the diabetogenicity of the virus. In contrast, KRV causes autoimmune type 1 diabetes in diabetes-resistant BioBreeding (DR-BB) rats without direct infection of β cells. Macrophages play an important role in the development of diabetes in KRV-infected DR-BB rats. As well, KRV infection preferentially activates effector T cells, such as Th1-like CD45RC+CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells, and downregulates regulatory T cells, such as Th2-like CD45RCCD4+ T cells. This results in the breakdown of the immune balance, contributing to the development of diabetes in KRV-infected DR-BB rats.