COVID-19 could trigger diabetes in healthy people

By Editor
22nd June 2020
Coronavirus, Research

COVID-19 might be triggering diabetes in previously healthy people, a team of international experts has warned.

New cases of the blood sugar condition have been repeatedly diagnosed in people who have tested positive for coronavirus, the group of 17 leading clinicians said in an open letter.

However, they admit that it remains unclear how the two may be interlinked.

Research has previously shown that ACE-2 – the protein to which the coronavirus appears to bind within the human body – is not only located in the lungs but also in organs involved in glucose metabolism including the pancreas, small intestine, liver and kidney.

If the virus attaches to these organs, it may then cause multiple dysfunctions of glucose metabolism, leading to the onset of diabetes in some cases.

A global registry of new cases of diabetes in patients with COVID-19 – named the CoviDiab Registry Project – has now been created, the experts said in their letter to The New England Journal of Medicine.

Francesco Rubino, professor of metabolic surgery at King’s College London and co-lead on the registry, said: “We are of course trying to understand what situation is behind the observations.”

Previous evidence has already suggested that the coronavirus can cause more severe complications in patients with pre-existing diabetes: approximately a quarter of people who have died with COVID-19 have also been reported to have had the blood sugar condition.

Professor Rubino said: “Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases and we are now realising the consequences of the inevitable clash between two pandemics.

“Given the short period of human contact with this new coronavirus, the exact mechanism by which the virus influences glucose metabolism is still unclear and we don’t know whether the acute manifestation of diabetes in these patients represents classic type 1, type 2 or possibly a new form of diabetes.”

To read the letter in full, click here.

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

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