Despite the apparent importance of inherited susceptibility in th

Despite the apparent importance of inherited susceptibility in the development of T1D, genetics alone cannot account for the disease’s entire aetiological spectrum. One of the most important indications

is the rapid increase in T1D incidence since the 1950s, particularly within the age group younger than 5 years [21–24]: a too-rapid growth to be explained reasonably Cilomilast mouse by genetic changes. In addition, twin studies have identified concordance rates that do not exceed 40% [25]. Such arguments lend support to the notion that one, or perhaps multiple, environmental event(s) should be factored in to explain disease development, and particularly the onset of clinical hyperglycaemia in predisposed individuals. Humans – like all other organisms on the planet – respond to environmental

influences. Until somewhat recently, humans had only a dim notion of, and so generally neglected, the concept of hygiene. Consequently, exposure to faecal–oral transmitted microorganisms and viruses was high from birth onwards. One disease that is spread by a faecal–oral-transmitted HEV and which was rare in our collective past, but became horrifically important to human health in the 20th century, is poliovirus (PV)-induced poliomyelitis. It is of interest that T1D, also rare in the past but common today, has also been linked closely to HEV infections (reviewed in [26]; recent meta-analysis in [27]). In the case of PV, immunity acquired by a combination of passive immune transfer through nursing from and environmental exposure to infectious PV resulted in poliomyelitis being CHIR-99021 datasheet rarely manifested. Could a similar effect with other viruses, such as species B HEV [1], have resulted in maintaining T1D at a low level in our human past? Experimental data showing that autoimmune T1D is suppressed in NOD mice following inoculation with HEV [8] and that such exposure can promote expansion of a protective regulatory T cell (Treg)

population [28] support this hypothesis. In a modern society, in which common exposure to faecal pathogens such as HEV has been greatly minimized, failure to become immune to one or more specific HEV by a certain age leaves one open to an HEV infection and a potentially aggressive attack on the pancreas, which may lead in turn to T1D onset [1]. Observational data of T1D incidence indifferent countries and societies [29] generally support the concept that more rural and/or less developed populations have a lower T1D risk than do populations in highly developed societies, in which it might be expected that higher hygiene standards are more widespread. What could be the pathological mechanisms that link viral infection to the onset of islet autoimmunity and eventually development of T1D? Several models have been postulated in attempts to answer this question.

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