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Cleanliness 'Leads To Diabetes'

Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2004

  Writing in Cell, they say this means the body then has too few immune cells. However, other studies have said there are enough cells, but because they have not "met" germs, they are not fully equipped to fight future infections.
We know that children who go to day nurseries in their early life are less likely to develop Type 1 diabetes Dr Mark Peakman, King's and St. Thomas' School of Medicine

Both theories are attempting to explain why in Type 1 diabetes, T cells turn on the body, attacking and kill beta cells in the pancreas, the body's source of insulin.

The Scripps researchers suggest that the lack of exposure to bacteria and viruses means the immune system does not work hard enough, creating a condition known as lymphopenia, where there is a reduction in the number of T cells in the body.

They suggest people with autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis often have low T cell numbers. They say it might be possible to reduce the chance that people will become ill by "priming" the immune system with germs.

The researchers studied mice living in an extremely sterile environment which had been genetically modified so they were prone to developing diabetes. But when the mice were exposed to bacteria, their T cell count increased and curtailed the development of diabetes in the mice. They say the protection against diabetes resulted from exposure to these pathogens because it kept the body full of immune cells.

Nora Sarvetnick, professor of immunology at Scripps, who led the research, said: "Autoimmunity has [traditionally] been considered a condition of too much stimulation. "What we are seeing is that it is a condition of too little stimulation."

According to Sarvetnick's and King's hypothesis, the protection against diabetes results from exposure to these pathogens because it keeps the body full of immune cells. Increased numbers of T cells act as a buffer against the emergence of self-reactive T cells by shutting down homeostatic expansion.

This hypothesis could explain a discrepancy in the number of cases of autoimmune disease in developed and developing countries. Disease rates have been on the rise in developed countries in the last 50 years compared to their developing neighbors, presumably because people in less developed countries are exposed to more pathogens.

"The cleaner everyone is, the less stimulation their immune system gets," says Sarvetnick. "Their immune system tends to be incomplete."

Dr Patricia McKinney, of the University of Leeds added other research had suggested childhood exposure to bacteria and viruses protected against diabetes. She said: "We know that children who go to day nurseries in their early life are less likely to develop Type 1 diabetes."

 

Source: Diabetes In Control

 
 
 
 
 
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