, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 53-61

A search for evidence of viral infection in pancreases of newly diagnosed patients with IDDM


Techniques were developed to look for evidence of viral infection in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded autopsy pancreatic tissues from patients who had died of recent-onset insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. DNA extracted from 47 pancreases in which good DNA preservation was confirmed was analysed by a polymerase chain reaction for Epstein-Barr virus and by a nested polymerase chain reaction for cytomegalovirus. Histological sections from 29 pancreases in which there was good RNA preservation were tested for the presence of enterovirus and Epstein-Barr virus using in situ hybridization techniques. Seventy-five pancreases were analysed immunohistochemically for the presence of mumps virus. None of these viruses could be detected in any of the diabetic pancreases studied. Control studies suggested that the techniques employed were as sensitive as culture done at the time of autopsy. Pancreas was available for study in 9 infants who had died of myocarditis; enterovirus was demonstrable in islets in 5 of these cases. An acute or persisting infection in the pancreas at the time of clinical onset of insulin-dependent diabetes by any of the 4 virus included in this study seems unlikely. [Diabetologia (1997) 40: 53–61]