Can COVID-19 Trigger Diabetes? – WebMD

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By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 3, 2020 (HealthDay Information) — A COVID-19 an infection may cause a variety of severe, typically lingering well being issues, like lung harm, kidney harm and ongoing coronary heart points. Currently, analysis has steered it could additionally trigger the sudden onset of insulin-dependent diabetes.

A brand new report particulars the case of a 19-year-old German with asymptomatic COVID-19 an infection who ended up hospitalized with a brand new case of insulin-dependent diabetes.

5 to seven weeks earlier than his diabetes developed, the younger man’s dad and mom developed COVID-19 signs after an Austrian ski journey. Ultimately, the whole household was examined. Each dad and mom examined optimistic for COVID-19 antibodies, as did the 19-year-old, indicating all had been contaminated with the coronavirus. Nonetheless, the son had by no means had signs of the an infection.

When the 19-year-old was admitted to the hospital, he was exhausted, had misplaced greater than 26 kilos in just a few weeks, was urinating regularly and had left-sided flank ache. His blood sugar stage was over 550 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) — a standard stage is lower than 140 mg/dL on a random blood check.

Medical doctors suspected he had kind 1 diabetes. He examined optimistic for a genetic variant that’s hardly ever related to kind 1 diabetes, however not genetic variants generally current in kind 1. He additionally did not have antibodies that individuals with kind 1 diabetes often have at analysis.

New kind of diabetes?

This left the consultants puzzled. Was this sort 1 or kind 2 diabetes or some new kind of diabetes? If it is not kind 1 diabetes, would possibly this sudden onset diabetes go away by itself? And eventually, they could not make certain that the COVID-19 an infection induced the diabetes. It is doable it was a preexisting situation that hadn’t but been identified.

Nonetheless, the authors of the research, led by Dr. Matthias Laudes of College Medical Centre Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, Germany, consider they’ve a believable clarification for the way COVID-19 infections may result in a brand new and sudden diabetes analysis. Their report is within the Sept. 2 Nature Metabolism.

Beta cells within the pancreas comprise a major variety of so-called ACE2 receptors. These receptors are believed to be the place the spike protein from the coronavirus attaches to cells. Beta cells produce insulin, a hormone that helps usher the sugar from meals into the physique’s cells for gasoline. The authors theorized {that a} coronavirus an infection, which impacts the ACE2 receptors, may also harm beta cells within the pancreas.


This course of is much like what’s believed to happen in kind 1 diabetes. The immune system mistakenly activates wholesome cells (autoimmune assault) after a viral an infection and damages or destroys beta cells, presumably inflicting kind 1 diabetes. Somebody with kind 1 diabetes has little to no insulin. Basic kind 1 diabetes requires lifelong insulin injections or supply of insulin through an insulin pump.

Dr. Caroline Messer, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York Metropolis, mentioned she’s heard there’s been an uptick in autoimmune diabetes for the reason that pandemic began.

She mentioned the authors’ suggestion that beta cells could also be destroyed in COVID infections is smart.

“This might account for the uptick in antibody unfavourable kind 1 diabetes,” she mentioned. “It can be crucial for practitioners to concentrate on the potential for insulin-dependent diabetes roughly 4 weeks after an infection despite unfavourable [type 1 diabetes] antibodies.”

Sanjoy Dutta, vp of analysis for JDRF (previously the Juvenile Diabetes Analysis Basis), mentioned, “I do not assume that is kind 1 or kind 2 diabetes. I feel it ought to be referred to as new onset or sudden onset insulin-dependent diabetes.”

Monitoring these circumstances

Dutta mentioned there have been sufficient of those circumstances in COVID sufferers {that a} registry has been created to maintain observe of their frequency. It consists of greater than 150 medical facilities all through the world.

He mentioned folks with sudden onset diabetes additionally appear to have vital insulin resistance and want very excessive doses of intravenous insulin. Insulin resistance is extra widespread in kind 2 diabetes.

He has additionally learn of diabetes circumstances which have reversed — not requiring insulin, which doesn’t occur with kind 1 diabetes.

“We have to know the mechanism behind these circumstances, and till we get extra proof, we must always keep open-minded. We do not know if it is beta cell destruction. It is too quickly for this to be boxed in as kind 1 diabetes,” Dutta famous.

A brand new research from the College of Florida might put a damper on the German authors’ concept. They appeared on the pancreases of 36 deceased folks with out COVID, and did not discover ACE2 of their beta cells.


Their discovering “doesn’t present assist to the notion that you will develop diabetes as a result of the coronavirus goes in and destroys a person’s insulin-producing cells,” senior writer Mark Atkinson, director of the UF Diabetes Institute, mentioned in a college information launch.

The UF research was simply printed as a preprint on the web site Preprint web sites let scientists distribute analysis shortly. Nonetheless, data on them has not been peer-reviewed and ought to be thought of preliminary.

Dutta mentioned regardless of the mechanism could be, most people and well being care suppliers ought to be alert for signs of diabetes after a COVID-19 an infection. These embody excessive fatigue, dry mouth, excessive thirst, frequent urination and unexplained weight reduction.

WebMD Information from HealthDay


SOURCES: Caroline Messer, M.D., endocrinologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York Metropolis; Sanjoy Dutta, Ph.D., vp, analysis, JDRF;Nature Metabolism, Sept. 2, 2020; College of Florida Well being, information launch, Sept. 2, 2020

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