A step forward in understanding how genetics and viruses influence diabetes

2023/07/10 Etxebeste Aduriz, Egoitz - Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

Ed. TheDigitalArtist/Pixabay

Researchers from Biocruces and UPV/EHU have characterized a long noncoding RNA related to the genetic tendency to suffer type I diabetes and have observed that it participates in the response to viral infections in pancreatic beta cells. He's been called ARGI: antiviral response gene inducer.

Type I diabetes is a complex chronic immune disease that develops in people genetically predisposed to risk factors. One of the causes may be the virus: “Our central hypothesis is that viral infections cause the development of the disease,” explains researcher Izortze Santín Gómez. “We believe that in people with a genetic tendency the inflammation seen in the early stages of the disease is due to viral infections of pancreatic cells.”

In fact, this study has shown that when there is a genetic variation in the tendency to develop type I diabetes in GIGA, the antiviral response is unbalanced and attracts more immune cells. In these cases, viral infections cause greater inflammation of the pancreas.

This work shows that non-coding RNAs perform important functions. “Most polymorphisms related to autoimmune diseases are found in non-coding regions of the genome,” explains Santín. “The study of these RNA non-encoders is essential to better understand the genetic factors that influence the development of these diseases.”

“The information obtained in this work can be used to design future preventive and therapeutic strategies,” adds Santín. “Vaccination against enterobirus in people with a genetic tendency could prevent or delay the development of diabetes. And by modulating the expression of ARGI, the effect of viral infections on the beta cells of the pancreas could be avoided.”

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