Study Ties Herpes Virus to Emerging Form of Diabetes

French researchers say antibodies linked to disease found in Sub-Saharan Africans

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TUESDAY, June 17, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- A link appears to exist between a herpes virus and an atypical form of type 2 diabetes in persons from sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new study.

Researchers in France, writing in the June 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association , noted a possible tie between the presence of antibodies for the virus human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) and ketosis-prone type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM-2). Ketosis occurs when ketone bodies, byproducts of fat metabolism, build up in body tissues and fluids.

DM-2 has emerged as a common form of diabetes in African populations since 1987, and from 30 percent to 60 percent of adults in sub-Saharan Africa have markers of HHV-8 infection.

The study, which looked at 187 black African diabetics patients, found HHV-8 antibodies in nearly 88 percent of those in the group with ketosis-prone DM-2, while they were found in only 15 percent of those with non-ketotic DM-2 and 40 percent of the control participants.

"Our preliminary study shows a strong link between ketosis-prone DM-2 phenotype and markers of HHV-8 infection," the authors wrote. "Patients with ketosis-prone DM-2 have a very high prevalence of HHV-8 infection, whereas patients with non-ketotic DM-2 have a much lower prevalence of HHV-8 infection when compared with the background population."

The authors called for more studies to try to replicate the results in other populations and longitudinal studies to understand the significance of the findings.

More information

The American Diabetes Association has more about diabetes.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, June 17, 2008

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