Effects of Enterovirus Infection on Innate Immunity and Beta Cell Function in Human Islets of Langerhans

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: This thesis focuses on enteroviral effects on human pancreatic islets. Most knowledge of viral effects on host cells relies on studies of immortalized cell lines or animal models. The islets represent a fundamentally different and less well studied cellular host. Also, enterovirus has been implicated in the etiology of type 1 diabetes (T1D). We show that when enterovirus replicates in human islets it activates innate immunity genes and induces secretion of the chemokines MCP-1 and IP-10. An important difference in activation of innate immunity by replicating EV and synthetic dsRNA is suggested, since the chemokine secretion induced by EV infection but not by dsRNA is reduced by female sex hormone. We also demonstrate a direct antiviral effect of nicotinamide, and even though this substance failed to prevent T1D in a large-scale study, this finding could have implications for the treatment/prevention of virus- and/or immune-mediated disease.We also had access to human pancreata from two organ donors with recent onset T1D and several donors with T1D-related autoantibodies, which gave us the opportunity to study ongoing pathogenic processes at and before the onset of T1D. Despite this, we could neither confirm nor reject the hypothesis that EV is involved in T1D development. Several observations, such as ultrastructural remodeling of the beta cell, activation of innate immunity, and immunopositivity to EV capsid protein 1, supported an ongoing virus infection, but direct evidence is still lacking.An interesting finding in the donors with recent onset T1D was that the islets were positively stained for insulin, but did not secrete insulin in response to glucose-stimulation. A similar effect was observed in EV-infected islets in vitro; EV destroyed islet function and insulin gene expression, but the islets still stained positive for insulin. This may be indicative of that a functional block in addition to beta cell destruction is involved in T1D pathogenesis.In conclusion, these studies of EV in isolated human islets in vitro support that this virus can cause T1D in vivo, but future studies will have to show if and how frequently this happens.